RoboCup US Open

It’s time for the RoboCup US Open! We awoke Thursday morning at 4:10am for Katie’s 6:23am flight to Portland, ME.  Katie got to the airport and through security without any issues.  The small carry-on suitcase containing 6 robot heads did not even create any interest in security.  Jake was already waiting at the gate when Katie arrived at 5:35am. Ryan, on the other hand, did not appear until 6:15am (long after we had boarded).

Katie originally tried to sleep on the flight to JFK, but gave up after the child directly behind her was loud and disruptive and the couple next to her kept coughing.  Hence, she opted to instead read through the SPL rulebook, listen to BPM, and watch tv. Flying on JetBlue is nice – radio, tv, good snacks, comfortable seats, and lots of legroom! The captain claimed we took an unusual approach into JFK, which led to some cool views over the ocean, beaches, and then (I think) upper Manhattan. JT didn’t enjoy the approach as much… He was tracking Katie’s flight and was quite concerned to see her plane veer off course and then turn sharply as it slowed down drastically (as low as landing speed of 143 mph), but it ended up being a delay loop near Atlantic City. JFK was under delay due to low-level clouds around the airport, which necessitated this delay loop and the unusual approach.

We easily navigated JFK to find our departure gate, where we found we were delayed 30 minutes. No big deal. We did have great views of planes landing at gate 16 (terminal 5), as we saw some big Japan, Asian, Saudi Arabian and Turkish airlines planes (including Airbus A380, Boeing 747-800 and plenty of 777s).

The flight from JFK to Portland was short, but nice.  Too bad the clouds blocked what was likely a pretty view for most of the flight.  Once in Portland we collected our bags and went to get a rental car.  We opted for a silver Subaru Forester, which barely fit all of our bags.  Then Katie drove the short 30 miles to Brunswick.  We checked into the Travellers Inn, and then headed to the venue around 3:15pm.  We settled in, and worked until we headed to dinner with Dan and Josh from Bowdoin around 6pm.  Then we continued working until around midnight.  Aldebaran came and dropped off their supplies shortly after dinner, and UPenn arrived in three batches starting around 8:30pm.  Katie worked mainly on setting up our color table today, Jake worked mainly on getting the robots on the wireless network, and Ryan worked on getting the new walk engine to kick.

Friday ended up being an incredibly frantic and stressful day for Katie.  After arriving at the venue around 9am on Friday, the team did not leave until 4:45am Saturday! Of course, we went to get delicious meals at the Bowdoin dining hall, but besides that it was lots of work.  Katie led a team leaders meeting where various new rules were discussed, and head refereed both the UPenn/Bowdoin game and the drop-in player game.

After getting to sleep for less than 2 hours, we were up bright and early on Saturday for our 10am game against Miami.  We managed to win by a score of 3-2.  There was no rest for the weary as I judged the 11am drop-in game before we hurried to the dining hall to get lunch before our 1pm game against UPenn.  Amanda arrived as we were setting up for the UPenn game – it was really nice to see her and have a fan!  We tied UPenn 1-1.  But there was still no rest for the weary as I head refereed the 2pm Bowdoin/Miami game (and Amanda jumped in and ran GameController with no previous experience!).  I finally got a bit of a break before our 4pm game against Bowdoin, which we won 2-0.  I head refereed the 5pm Miami/UPenn game, which had some controversy when Miami believed I was inconsistently calling pushing.  I guess they forgot to read page 30 of the rulebook where it claims ‘any decision by the head referee is valid’. 🙂  Amanda left to go home to Boston after this final game of the night.  We went to dinner at the dining hall, worked on a few things (including penalty kick code), and left around 10pm to get some rest before the championship day.

We officially got 2nd in pool play, so I assistant refereed the Penn/Bowdoin semi-final before we played Miami in our semi-final at 9:45am.  Our code and robots both looked much worse than it had in pool play on Saturday, and we fell to Miami after scoring an own goal.  We then played Bowdoin in the 3rd place game, which we promptly lost after scoring another own goal.  It was a pretty depressing championship day, and it really stressed the fact that we must (1) adequately test our behaviors on real robots and (2) make sure we can get everything running well for competitions (we struggled to tune some functions and make good color tables).  It was good experience for actual RoboCup in July though.

After we packed up the robots, Jake and Ryan went back to the hotel to study/nap before dinner and I drove down to LLBean in Freeport.  I was in search of a down jacket, but came back with a sweatshirt and new hiking boots from the LLBean factory outlet store!  Freeport really did have an epically large LLBean campus, with five or six different types of LLBean stores.  I picked up Ryan and Jake around 6pm for the infamous Bowdoin Sunday Sundae!  Afterwards we went to Joshua’s Tavern for a bit before heading back to the hotel.

Katie’s approach to JFK (JetBlue Flight 794)

Frightening (to JT) drop in speed during the delay loop

Turkish airlines plane, as seen from JFK gate 16 (Airbus A330-300

Jake, Ryan, and I after a depressing championship day

 Bowdoin’s Pretty Campus

Massive boot outside the main LLBean store

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