Now that all robots and robot builders have returned to the lab safely, a short report about the IranOpen seems like a good idea.
The preparation days went along rather smoothly. At first we had planned to take along our new robot model but due to undelivered parts we had to leave our newest team member in Berlin. Since Ada, John and the others are already seasoned football players no bigger problems surfaced during the preparations. Six teams in total came to Teheran, split into two groups. The Iranian teams Parand, AEHuman and MRL were in the first group, the Bold Hearts from England, the Hamburg BitBots and us made up the second one.
During the first match agains the Bold Hearts our robots showed what they are capable of and played one of the most successfull games of our team history. 5:0 was written on the leaderboard after 20 minutes. Emmy and Ada scored three solid goals.
Even John, normally our goalie, was able to hit the goal twice after we let him play on the offense. The start of the group phase seemed to go well.
The next game against the BitBotsdid not go as well. Due to Wifi problems no robot on the pitch received any signals from the game controller software. For there first 13 minutes there basically was no game. Even though we are able to let one robot play without game controller commands, Emmy was not able to dribble around four BitBots on her own. During the remaining time the ball got close to the goal line but just did not want to go over it. The game ended 0:0 and as group leader we moved on to the semi-final.
Based on the results of the group stage and the intermediary rounds we faced the Bold Hearts again in the semi-final. Only two of their team members had travelled to Iran but the team is known for pushing their performance with over-night coding sessions. Just like this time. The Darwin robots played better than in the first match. On the contrary our robots had a lot of bad luck. A previously undetected software bug froze the software every time one of the players finished standing up. A robot who had fallen down had to be taken off the pitch and received a time penalty. Additionally Ada damaged one of her gearsets in her arm. This together with a damaged cable led to a power overload and blew the fuse. Although we could exchange a fuse in only 14 seconds, Ada was not able to continue playing. Finally John stubbornly refused to properly detect the goals and thus did not contribute much to the game. At the end of the overtime the ball had been in the British penalty box seven times but the score had remained 0:0. The penalty shootout was won by the Bold Hearts 2:1. The game was very exciting and as usual with the Bold Hearts, very fair. Now only the match for the third place was left.
The evening saw us giving a lot of attention to our robots. Especially Ada and Emmy were serviced intensively. On the last day of the competition we played against the BitBots again who again placed four robots on the football field, including their new model HULK. It seemed as if our players had accepted the received attention benevolently and again showed a good performance. Ada and Emmy in particular played a strong match and dribbled the ball through the tight defense of the Bitbots several times. With a final score of 2:0 we secured the third place.
In addition to the games teams were offered a technical challenge. In the past these included tasks like a proper throw-in or jumping. Since there exists a league for mine clearance at the Iran Open we were able to test our walking on rough ground. The testing area was filled with sand, rough gravel as well as various obstacles like barbed wire, branches, rocks and mines. While Emmy was able to walk on sand just fine the gravel proved to be quite a challenge. Her feet are so small that she sometimes sunk in between the small rocks. She actually was able to walk on the surface, just not very fast.
All in all the team can be happy with its performance. The new team members Tanja and Arne gathered their first tournament experience and Ju, borrowed from the BitBots, was able to contribute to the teams performance very well. Nine goals were scored during normal playing time in the entire league, seven by us. Additionally we mastered the technical challenge. Now we can focus on our new robot model and the preparations for the RoboCup in Leipzig.
Apart of the tournament we enjoyed the hospitality of the Iranian people and could get a view of the society and culture. All in all it was a very interesting trip!