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SubT Finals

Robotika Team

After three years of development, DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge teams will get the chance to compete in the Final Event being held at the Louisville Mega Cavern in Louisville, Kentucky on September 21-23, 2021. All teams have to re-qualify for both System and Virtual competition. Is Robotika Team going to be one of the 15 System teams and 10 Virtual teams? Update: 29/6/2021 — Team Robotika qualified for the Virtual Competition

12th February 2021 — Final Event rules and schedule

DARPA announced on Wednesday 10th the rules for the final event, see Final Event Competition Rules (pdf). All teams have to qualify and the requirements are stronger, so see also new Qualification Guilde (pdf). Note, that there is not much time left — The Systems Competition qualification deadline is April 21, 2021 and the Virtual Competition qualification deadline is June 29, 2021.
So what is new? The robots have to be able to recognize 10 types of artifacts: 3 common (Survivor, Backpack, Phone), from tunnel (Fire Extinguisher, Drill), from urban (Gas, Vent) and from cave (Rope, Helmet). Moreover there will be 10th, so far unknown, artifact type. In order to qualify at least one robot has to demonstrate autonomous detection of all types of artifacts!
For the System there will be two Preliminary Rounds, each 30 minutes long. There will be 20 artifacts but teams will have only 25 reports. Only six best teams will compete in the finals. There the limit is going to be 60 minutes and number of artifact 40 with 45 allowed report attempts.
The Final Event of the Virtual Competition will consist of a Preliminary Round and a Prize Round each with a separate solution submission window. The submissions to the Preliminary Round will be evaluated and the results are expected to be announced the week of August 9-13, 2021. The top 10 teams from the Preliminary Round will be invited to submit solutions to the Prize Round to compete for monetary prizes. The results and winners of the Prize Round will be announced at the Final Event being held September 21-23, 2021.

4th March 2021 — Virtual qualification world released

Last night was released the Finals Qualification World for virtual SubT. In Czech I would call it „kočkopes” as it combines tunnel, urban and cave into one world. Simply from the very first crossing you can go to Urban to the left, or to Cave to the right, or straight to Tunnel:
The qualification task is easy — just correctly report at least one artifact. But is is hard, or it at least seems to be. The robots did not move at all in the first two attempts due to a small bug (#807, fixed). But the score is still 00 …
I do not mind leading the empty table, but 1 point would be nicer.
The robots have seen backpack in urban area, but it is „slightly different” to what was robot used to see in Cave, so they did not recognize it tonight. So hopefully tomorrow.
Two Freyja robots were capable to follow the world boundary in 15 minutes (simulated, it took almost 3 hours on CloudSim) but they both met under the hill and start talking how it would be great to have some snow and ski … no that was another story.
p.s. after another fix on OSRF side (#809, it looks like the base was not covered by signal) Robotika scored the first point and is the first qualified team to Virtual SubT Finals!

18th March 2021 — 10th artifact type?

Well, it is still not official but thanks to leak in Virtual SubT - PR826 it looks like that the mysterious 10th artifact is going to be some kind of treasure
I guess that by Friday this will be official but I am really curious how they want to force the System teams to detect it — well, they can force it but how to handle it? So I am looking forward for official info!

25th March 2021 — Finals Practice Worlds

OK, The Cube was really officially announced on Friday but I somehow overlooked it (as usual). So now there is a new CloudSim release not only with the 10th artifact but also the leaderboard contains Finals Practice 1, 2, 3 worlds.
Yes, you can see team robotika now, sometimes leading with zeros. But on the other hand the worlds were a little bit disappointing — they reflect old circuits: tunnel, urban and cave.
There is also new feature — fog! And that is going to be fun:
Fog in tunnel
Fog in tunnel
If you are curious what LIDAR sees in the fog then the answer is simple — nothing. Both Freyja as X4 drone turned around and returned.

3rd April — Virtual Fog

I must admit that the new feature fog emitter is a lot of fun. Camera does not see anything except white image, lidar readings are random and there are no sonars available on the virtual robots. A little bit promising are data from depth camera:
so now I am running simulation with suggested filter. We will see if robot Freya will navigate through fog dense so much you could cut it (Rakosníček) and discover drill artefact and score at lease one point in Finals Practice World 1. It is nice that this trap is very close to the start (follow the right wall for 1 minute), and it probably worked … unfortunately you cannot see fog in web-view. It just scored the point, so no longer leading with zero points in Finals Practice 1!
Here is the video of Freyja in fog in the Finals Qualification world … or, if you want, you can watch it from the beginning. How many artifacts you have you discovered? Backpack in Urban? What about the helmet in Cave?? No? Well, check the fog again. Yeah, you can see meeting of two robots which caused switch to alternative route … and a little bit of looping. The exploration was limited to 15 minutes (A900L) and then the robot returned to base.

6th May 2021 — Eight teams have qualified for Systems Final Event

… and Robotika is among them!
Yes, we were also surprised that only eight teams (instead of fifteen) made it to the Finals. On the other hand it is the elite (yeah, except us … but you never know. This is surely related to the pandemic + if everything can be canceled and the chance to win $2M is low …
So who are the competitors:
Note, that the registration to Virtual competition is still open, but you can already guess from the leaderboard who is qualified:
One point is enough to qualify … if you check both lists you will see that this time at least 4 teams will compete in both categories!

16th June 2021 — Kloubák and Skiddy in Cave Výpustek

Last weekend we had our first Robotika STIX (SubT/System Test Integration Exercise) for SubT System Finals. And it was a very nice change after almost a year (in some sense even more = since we returned from Urban Circuits) of virtual live only.
The meeting place was cave Výpustek in Moravia Karst with other famous caves like Macocha and Býčí Skála nearby. Cave Výpustek was formerly used as a hidden factory during war and later as a nuclear shelter. The main space is relatively easy for our robots because the original natural cave was modified to serve humans: the floor has hard flat concrete, lights are built in the walls and are used for tourists excursions, and the ceiling is high enough so you can walk around without a helmet. The most difficult elements were small chain guardrails saying "do not enter", which was not correctly interpreted by robots.
The software integration was difficult as expected. Since the last year, when System Cave Circuit was canceled, the focus was Virtual competition only and some hardware dependent pieces were no longer supported (or at least definitely not retested on real hardware). In time the basic operating system shifted forward to newer versions and the device drivers (RealSense tracking and depth cameras) too. Yes and it also took a while to remember all the "minor details" necessary to have everything smoothly running. But at the end both robots Kloubak K2 and Skiddy moved and autonomously navigated and explored the cave — the primary goal was reached. Note, that we were still rather recovering the old strategy from last year Urban Circuit than the latest algorithms from Virtual world (mainly terrain traversability and octomap mapping and exploration). This is going to be our next step.
Skiddy — this is our newest robot built by Pavel Skotak. It is a relatively small (0.4m x 0.56m x 0.35m) robot capable of entering narrow spaces. It is not the lightest (18kg) because it is based on four hoverboard motors (BLDC motors built in the wheels) which each weighs ~3kg. The robot was still "too fresh", not all sensors were mounted (so far front RGBD and tracking camera only, the rear depth camera was not integrated yet). Never-the-less robot was driving around, demonstrating its driving capabilities and also the weak points (connectors). The STIX was very important for the whole team to align and see the complete status first hand.
p.s. There were a couple visitors including MartinL — and now there is a slight chance that Skiddy won't be the last robot in the list for Platform Qualification which ends on 21st June 2021 (5days).

24th June 2021 — Czech STIX Býčí Skála

If you thing that subterranean robotics is only about robots, broken wheels, fried motor controllers and loose connectors then you are wrong. It is also about logistics, team coordination, catering etc. The last night was a perfect example. We were at the university testing communication between Jetson Nano modules with the main control computer, finished at 9pm, bought some groceries before the shop closed at 10pm and then drove "highway" D1 to Brno and cave Býčí skála. We arrived at 1am the next day and surely several people from CTU-CRAS-NORLAB team were still discussing ROS topics by the fire.
SubT is also about exciting (not necessarily positive) experiences. That come about 30 minutes after we arrived and evaluated options where to sleep. The best option (I would vote for it again!) was large open cave on tourist hike, about 300 meters away. Shortly after we entered (and probably woke up several competitors) the storm started to be much closer. It was fun, we could see the walls from "the large windows" with each lightning … but then very heavy rain started, which looked also OK, until I realized that I sleep in a stream bed. It was the beginning so still OK, moved to higher dry place. But then, about 15 minutes later opened waterfall directly on my sleeping bag. "Fun." These are experiences you will never get sitting behind computer at home and playing SubT Virtual track. (I can easily imagine Bilbo saying "we do not want any adventure here").
The cave is very nice - large, spacious, a great playground for all kinds of robots. Outside was temperature around 28C degrees and inside 8C degrees, so the very first „surprise” we have seen was LIDAR blindness, again:
And here are the views from front and rear cameras:

29th June 2021 — Team Robotika qualified for the Virtual Competition

We just received mail:
Team Robotika, Congratulations! After careful review of your submission, we are pleased to inform you that you are now qualified to compete in the Final Event of the SubT Challenge Virtual Competition.
So now the question is if all 12 teams now listed in Finals Qualification World will be accepted.
SubT Virtual competition deadlines
SubT Virtual competition deadlines