On August 4th, the International Regional competition of 2019 Robomaster Robotics Competition came to an end. The team Meta consisting of the students from ZJUI Institute won the fifth place in the international regional competition together with the Japanese Fukuoka United University team. The robots they developed also received the design awards. It is reported that the international regional competition have participants from 17 universities, including Virginia Tech, Washington University, Purdue University, Hong Kong University, Queen's University and Taiwan Chung Cheng University, etc. Although team Meta was not able to qualify for the top four who get the qualification for the Final event, it was already a pleasant surprise for the first-time Meta team.
Self-developed robots' exciting battle
The RoboMaster Competition is a robotic competition platform for young engineers all over the world. It is a robotic event jointly organized by DJI, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, the National Federation of Students, and the Shenzhen Government. As the world's first robot shooting competition, it is famous for its impressive audio-visual impact and tough competitive style, and has attracted the attention of hundreds of universities, nearly one thousand high-tech companies and thousands of technology enthusiasts around the world.
The competition requires the participants to walk out of the classroom, form a mech team, and independently develop and produce a variety of robots to participate in the team competition. The competition focuses on the comprehensive application and engineering practice ability of the participating members in science and engineering. It also integrates many robot related technologies such as “machine vision”, “embedded system design”, “mechanical control”, “inertial navigation” and “human-computer interaction”. The innovative combination of e-sports presentation and robotic competition makes the robot confrontation more intuitive and intense, attracting the attention and participation of many technology enthusiasts and the public.
“Meta is the biggest dark horse in this international reginal competition.”
Facing with high-intensity and high-density competitions, the first-time ZJUI students overcame the difficulties. The contest staff called them "the biggest dark horse in this competition." Meta can not only play suspensefully with a strong team like Fukuoka, but also preserve to win in the last few seconds in the game with Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool. They are also able to challenge the teams with many years of experience. It is no wonder that they have won the recognition of many staff members of the competition. The editorial liaison officer pointed out that "Zhejiang-UIUC did not lose their mind in the high-frequency game, from which they can be definitely viewed as a strong team." The organizing committee also acclaim the robots developed by Meta, and awarded them with the team design award and single award for their sentinel robot.
The competition with the veteran team Washington University for the semi-finals can be said to be the epitome of the hard work of Meta throughout the race. As the first-time participants, their performance is certainly bright enough. After being defeated by the fierce attack of the University of Washington in the first game, the players did not lose their confidence. In the second game, they adjusted their tactics in time, using the bunker's defense bonus to play the defensive game, and the 5th infantry robot alone in-depth guerrilla. It seized the opportunity when the opponents were supplying ammunition and caused a lot of damage to the opponents’ engineering robot, and also defeated the opponents’ 5th infantry robot which stuck next to it, pulling back a game with a damage advantage of 200 points. In the final game, the opponent's robot still had problems but ZJUI students were not impatient. They still calmly waiting for the opponent to fall into the encirclement. In the end, the Meta team won the game in a strong “sweeping” that exceeded the opponent’s damage points by more than doubled.
Speaking of this competition, the leader of the Meta control department, Liu Zikai, said, "Compared with the team with relatively strong technical accumulation, we still have a lot of shortcoming. This game really needs technical accumulation. We don't have too much advantages, but we are not afraid of tigers. We don’t have any burdens, but we work hard and never give up."
“We are familiar with one or two o'clock in the morning.”
For this competition, many students have actually been preparing for more than a year. Because it is a brand-new team, in addition to developing robots from scratch, the team members also need to control the progress of development, formation and team management. Compared with some mature teams that have been participating for many years, Meta's workload is actually quite large. They were willing to go to the competition last year, but they couldn't manage because the robots were still off.
Talking about the experience of more than a year in preparation for the game, Meta’s captain Han Tianyi described “It’s common for us to stay in the lab until one or two in the morning. At the beginning, security guards often came to us and ask why didn’t we go back to the dormitory in the midnight, but gradually the they got used to our lab that is often on for the whole night.” Because the college curriculum is already full, team members can only use the spare time to complete the research, development, production, strategic deployment, team promotion, etc. Almost all members chose to stay in school during the summer vacation to facilitate discussion, research and development. During the preparation for the competition, there are two important time points that conflict with ZJUI's midterm and final exam time. Despite the difficulties, the players also try their best to balance learning and team activities. In the end, they are able to go from scratch to attending the competition as scheduled, which is also a comfort to their unremitting efforts for more than a year.
Meta is also very different from the other teams participating in the competition. Our team members are almost all junior and sophomore students, while other teams mainly consist of juniors and seniors. Some teams even have masters and PhD students. The embedded design programming content mainly involved in R&D is difficult, and it is not the same as what the players learned in class and require them to study and overcome by themselves. Despite the difficulties, they came one step at a time. In fact, the technical knowledge required to develop these robots has far exceeded what they have learned in the classroom.
“Result is not the most important, while participation and gain are the key”
"Result is not the most important. Participation and gain are the key. If I join a strong team that already has a good foundation today, I may be able to get good results without spending so much time and energy. However, if that is the case I think the harvest cannot be so much as what I got at Meta. Just because we started from scratch, we all rely on our own groping, and what we get is more valuable than a final result." Captain Han Tianyi showed his satisfaction that "I am very fortunate to be able to find students who share similar interests in college and will continue to love their robots and participate in such competitions."
In order not to be limited by themselves, Meta also actively took the initiative to learn from the two teams of Zhejiang University to study their good experience and get their selfless help. Also, through the warm-up match in April, they met outstanding teams such as Guangdong Taiwan Chung Cheng University and maintained communication with them. In such an international competition, they also have more opportunities to exchange ideas with students from top universities. They saw the full commitment of the American team and also the unique design ideas of Japan Fukuoka team. The internal discussion and communication between the teams also inspired them to make them more interesting ideas and improve their communication and teamwork skills.
"Compared with the strong team, we still have a lot of deficiencies, such as the robot performance needs to be improved, the hit rate is too low, the stability is not so good, and the tactics are not as good as the others..." Talking about their own shortcomings, Liu Zikai continued endless. He said that they will sum up the experience, further strengthen the robots, improve team discipline and management, and try to be perfect.
Han Tianyi and Liu Zikai also hope to take this opportunity to thank those who have helped Meta. "Being able to get today's achievements, we must especially thank the team members for their persistent efforts and the two teams from Zhejiang University who are generous and helpful. We show our grateful to our instructors including Vice Dean Ma Hao, Professor Cui Jiahuan, Yang Liangjing and Mark Butala. Thanks to Prof. Cui for attending our regular meeting every time and helping us to control the progress of the time. We sincerely thank all the instructors for their help and thanks to the institute for providing lab and funding."
In this competition, ZJUI students participated in the practice of technological innovation, cultivated their engineering practice ability and improved the level of teamwork. They also gained valuable practical skills and strategic thinking through the competition by combining theory with practice. It is reported that there are 19 players went to the match on behalf of ZJUI, but the Meta team has 30 members. Let us express our warm congratulations to all the members of the Meta team, and hope that they will continue to work harder and make higher achievements in the coming year!
Meta photo with Fukuoka and Guangdong Taiwan Chung Cheng University team
Photos | Robomaster
Translator | Liu Tingkai