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[DPRG] A Modest Proposal

Subject: [DPRG] A Modest Proposal
From: David Anderson davida at smu.edu
Date: Wed Mar 5 16:03:39 CST 2014

Greetings Fellow Roboteers,

Runnning my best attempt at the DPRG CanCan Soccer contest with SR04 
over the weekend, and conferring with some of the other teams' members, 
it looks like the problems associated with 1) sensing and locating the 
cans, 2) capturing them in some way, 3) locating the goal, 4) delivering 
the cans thereto, and 5) doing all of this repeatedly, are the major 
areas of R&D that everyone (myself included) are currently trying to solve.

Adding the complication of sensing and avoiding the other robot, not to 
mention the problems involved in sensing and avoiding the judge, (who 
will at times also be in the competition space to "immediately remove" 
any secondary cans the robot might have collided with) seems beyond what 
most teams are currently working on.  Doug has tried to address this 
problem with a fairly complex set of rules regarding "collisions" and 
who can call "reset" and under what conditions. All of this is, at this 
time, untested.

Understanding that the DPRG CanCan Soccer rules for 2014a are pretty 
much cast in concrete, I nonetheless have a modest proposal: Run the 
robots one at a time.

All the other rules remain the same.  The Robot with the most cans at 
the end of its 10 minute run is the winner, and ties will be decided by 
the fastest times.

When we have a group of robots that can successfully do the 5 tasks 
listed above (probably not what will happen at 2014a), then we can have 
them go head-to-head.  This modest proposal allows the teams to 
concentrate this time around on the main goals (no pun) of the contest 
itself, and show the performance of their solutions in the best possible 

Having the robots go head-to-head involves a whole new group of 
problems, which are probably best solved once you have a robot that is 
already able to solve the 5 basic tasks.   Further, head-to-head 
competition inevitably invites counter-measures.  I can think of half a 
dozen off the top of my head, all that lay within the letter and spirit 
of the rules.   Seems like that sort of thing should be reserved for a 
more advanced contest.

As an aside, I found this weekend that "immediately removing" any 
secondary cans and returning them "to their original locations" 
invariably interferes with both the offending robot and the 
non-offending robot, because of the presence of a large object, the 
judge, within the contest boundary.  Has anybody else actually tried 
this?  This rule may need to be revisited for the next contest in 2014b.


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