Saturday, July 2, 2016

Competition days at the Amazon Picking Challenge 2016

Our first competition day started with a lot of work for our team. To compensate for inaccuracies in our object detection, we decided to implement force detection during pick-up and we adapted our pipeline to take an extra scan after picking up an item. This made picking of the items out of the bin a lot more robust, but we would lose a lot of time taking the extra scans of our objects.

 Our first challenge was the stow-task, where our robot had to pick up randomly placed items from a tote and place them in a shelf. After we mis-detected two objects, we decided to opt for a restart of the challenge. After the restart we did a lot better, we recognized one item based on our 2D-feature recognition algorithm and successfully placed it in the shelf. After that we also detected another item correctly, but ran out of time before we could stow it in the shelf. In the end we managed to end up in 12th place out of 16 teams.

For the second challenge, our robot had to perform the task of picking items from the shelf and placing them in the tote. Our challenge started a lot tougher, since all of the four items we could not pick up with our gripper were part of our assignment. We managed to detect, pick up and place two out of twelve items. However, one of these items was not picked up correctly, so we got some points deducted for that. In total, our team managed get to 12th place in this second challenge as well.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Busy first day in Leipzig

We've had a very busy first day setting up our system and getting it ready for the competition next friday. There were quite some issue with our camera calibration, but we were able to fix these with another lens.
In the meantime, Fabian has been 3D-printing some extra parts to make our cable guide more robust.

Tomorrow, we hope to fully test our pipeline with the new camera set-up so we'll be ready for the stowing task next friday!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Last preparations for Leipzig

With just a few days to go until the Amazon Picking Challenge in Leipzig, team Applied Robotics is getting ready for the challenge.

We have been upgrading our camera setup and our gripper. Also, last weeks we have been spending most of our spare time on improving our vision pipeline and implementing our tote-picking pipeline.

Even during our normal day jobs, our laptops have not been idle. They have been running tests to see if our motion planner returned collision-free paths.

Tuesday, we will depart for Leipzig and the competition will start on friday. Keep tuned for regular updates!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Team Applied Robotics wins Dutch derby in Denmark

During last week's RoboBusiness conference in Odense, Denmark, both Dutch teams exhibited their robot and prepared for the Amazon Picking Challenge by engaging in a friendly competition.

Team Applied Robotics arrived tuesday evening, the day before the conference started and we wasted no time setting up our system. Setting up our hardware was done in under 45 minutes, but our software was not yet fully tested and still needed quite some tweaking. Luckily wednesday was a relatively quiet day at the exhibition floor, so we could use our time testing the system and implementing a lot of improvements to our path planner.
Among other things, we are now able to publish collision objects and an octomap and our path planner is able to reliably plan the safest path in and out of the bins.

Friday was the day of our competition against Delft. We had agreed on a subset of items to be picked from the shelf and recruited an arbitrary judge to randomly place the items in the shelf. A large crowd had gathered to watch as the judge counted down until the start of our 10-minute match.

We were off to a quick start, and within 40 seconds we dropped our first item in the tote. Team Delft, however had some driver problems and had to opt for a restart. By the time Delft had restarted, we were already in a comfortable lead of 3 items. Picking up the rest of the items went smoothly, apart from the last one, which was placed in such a way our path planner could not find a collision-free path. Meanwhile, Delft was closing in on our score of 5 out of 6 items and deposited their third items with 2 minutes still on the clock. Luckily for us they did not manage to pick another item before the time ran out and therefore we won with 5 items against 3.

This challenge was a great opportunity for both teams to prepare for the real competition in Leipzig and we would like to thank team Delft for the great atmosphere and organization of this event.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Demonstration of Team Applied Robotics at RoboBusiness Europe

Team Applied Robotics was challenged by Team Delft to show off our robot at the RoboBusiness Europe Conference in Odense, Denmark. (1st of june untill the 3rd of june). Of course we were thrilled to take up this challenge, also because it is the best preparation we can get for the actual Amazon Picking Challenge in July.

Our two teams will be demonstrating our robot systems during the conference in a friendly competition. This will allow us to gauge the competition and fine-tune our strategy for the competition in Leipzig.

Read more about this event at:

We will keep you updated on the final preparations for this mini-competition in the next week!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Vacuum gripper re-design

For the new Amazon Picking Challenge we decided to improve our gripper design. The vacuum concept we used last year worked pretty well, but since this year the bins will be more crowded, our gripper needs to be even thinner.
Also for the bin-picking part of the challenge we could use an extra degree of freedom.

To make this new design, we've enlisted the help of last-year's mechanical engineer Maurice Ramaker and our latest addition to the team: Fabian Gouwens! We have developed a lot of different concepts and decided on two concepts for prototyping.

We have 3D printed the two concepts and put them to the test.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Team Applied Robotics to participate in APC 2016

On June 30th, 2016, the second installment of the Amazon Picking Challenge will take place as part of the Robocup event in Leipzig, Germany.

We, as Team Applied Robotics, are happy to announce that we have been selected to participate again in the Amazon Picking Challenge!

One of our team members from last year, John Gardenier, has left for a PhD position in Sydney and will not participate this year.
However, we are very happy to welcome Wim Abbeloos as a new team member! He joins Berend Kupers and Simon Jansen to form this year's core development team.

We' re very excited for the challenge this year, which includes not only picking items from the shelf. but also picking items from a bin and stowing them onto the shelf.

We've restarted development and will from now on regularly update this blog in the coming months.