Last year’s winner of Robot Uprising’s annual hackathon was kind enough to share their thoughts on participating, the feeling of victory, and tips and tricks to get you started in our events. Read on and get the scoop on Europe’s largest hands-on robotics challenge, where gaming, puzzles and storytelling create an immerse and competitive world.
1. Can you tell us your team name and year of participation?
Zero Ones Given – we participated in 2018 and 2019
2. What is your individual / team background and experience that led to you applying to the event? Had you competed in any similar events?
We’re a bunch of programmers and tech enthusiasts. One of us had participated in the Helsinki Hacklab robotics challenge but nothing like this before. We were super excited to get to participate in such a big robotics event in Finland :).
3. How did you form your team: are the people from the same country/study program, working community, etc?
We’re a group of friends who know each other through work, hobbies or mutual acquaintances.
4. How did you find out about Robot Uprising?
I think we learned about the first event on Facebook and after that, we’ve been actively following Robot Uprising.
5. Would you like to describe the experience of participating in the event? Before entering, first impressions, during, and after?
We started planning our participation pretty early and bounced around a lot of different ideas on what sort of shenanigans our bot could do. A lot of our initial ideas did not comply with the rules and had to be scrapped (in hindsight, this was a good thing, as they were more focused on messing with the other bots rather than winning). But we pretty much agreed straight away on the goal being that we want to do something cool and have some sort of a wow factor to our bot.
The weeks leading up to the event were really busy and we tried to organize team meetups as soon as possible to get our robot and special hardware up and running. At times it seemed like we had bitten off more than we could chew.
The event had an atmosphere that was out of this world. We really enjoyed hanging around in what seemed like a hackathon from some dystopian neon-colored future. Especially since we had learned after our first participation that no amount of preparation was too much and therefore we had some time to look around.
We were super nervous before the tournament since there had been no practice rounds with other robots, but that soon changed to relief and joy when our robots were moving around as intended and even throwing the balls around. Our goal all along had been to do something different (inspired by many of the innovative robots in 2018) and even before we were able to score any goals and the robot was overshooting every shot it tried, we were super happy and felt like all the hard work had come to fruition. One thing that caused some palpitations was adding some tape to our thrower’s rollers which caused our calibrations to go totally out of whack. Luckily we got it recalibrated before the next match needed to start.
I think none of us had expected to win the competition. We were extremely surprised and happy for the victory, especially when the final was so tight. Afterwards, we held a team meeting where we watched the recorded stream from the event and already wrote down some ideas for the next competition.
6. Would you have any recommendations or advice for new teams entering RU events? Tips, tricks, what to expect?
Try to prepare as much as possible beforehand and be creative. If you have something that works even a bit before the event, it’s much easier and less stressful during the event. Also don’t be afraid of interacting with other teams: everyone is there to have a great time!
Coming up with mad ideas is part of the fun and you should always dream big and encourage your team to say even the craziest ideas out loud. However, when it comes to prioritizing tasks, you should start with the simplest possible solution. Having all the components of your solution talking together as early as possible is definitely the way to go.
7. Did the event introduce you to any meaningful relationships, people etc?
We met a lot of nice and awesome people during the event and we’ve been attending Robot Uprising events outside of the actual competitions. The events are really nice and give a way of interacting with cool people (without having a nagging feeling that you should be working on your bot) outside of the event.
8. What inspires and motivates you in this field?
Well we’re a pretty geeky bunch and who doesn’t love robots? This provides us with a more creative way of playing with technology outside of our regular day to day lives in business environments.
9. Do you have any wishes for the future of the event and AI/robotics communities in general?
Keep on being awesome, the event seems to be improving each year and is in good hands!
It would be great to see some underground competitions where robots would battle just because of the love for the sport in a somewhat similar setting than the actual competition.