Team Applied Robotics made it to the final of the Amazon Robotics Challenge 2017! We arrived in Nagoya the weekend before the competition and started running tests in simulation. This was the first chance most of us had to meet each other as development was split between team members in the Netherlands and Australia.
The Amazon Robotics Challenge involves two tasks, a stow task and a pick task. In the stow task, 32 items need to be placed from a tote into a storage system, simulating the packing of a storage system in a distribution centre. The items in the tote are piled together haphazardly, meaning recognition is difficult. The pick task involves moving specific items from a stocked storage system into three boxes, as if an order is being fulfilled for a customer. The final consists of a back to back stow and pick task. Before we arrived, we knew the stow task would be our weak point but that our storage system design, which uses multiple flat shelves to maximise surface area, would enable a good pick task.
On Thursday we had the official practice runs where teams could choose to practice a stow or pick task. We chose a stow task in preparation for the stow task on Friday. On Friday morning we arrived to find our Realsense cameras not working, due to an automatic kernel update that was downloaded the day before. After a stressful morning we worked out how to fix the issue and we had our stow run at 16.00, getting 5 points.
Immediately after the stow task we started testing the pick task ready for Saturday morning. We were the first team up at 9.30 so everything had to be in working order on Friday evening when the convention centre closed. Our pick run went very well and we got 140 points. This was better than expected, and opened the door to progressing to the finals. During the course of the day the other teams had their pick runs and we prepared in the event we made it through. After the last team ran at 18.00 we found out we had made it into the top 8 teams competing in the final on Sunday, and we spent Saturday evening getting everything ready for our finals run on Sunday morning. In the finals, we stowed two items from the tote into our storage system and picked one item from the storage system into a box, giving us 20 points. At time of writing the other finalists are doing their final runs.
Team Applied Robotics 2017 pick task