A robot mobile endurance challenge. Part of European Robotics Week 2014

In April 2013, our EU-funded STRANDS project started with the aim of developing autonomous mobile robots which are able to operate for long periods in everyday environments. When complete, these robots will perform intelligent tasks in care and security applications. Before that, we must ensure they can simply just survive without expert help in real world. To challenge ourselves and our robots, we decided to run a robot marathon during European Robotics Week. This is an endurance competition in which teams try to enable their mobile robots to run for as long as possible, whilst also driving as far as possible.

In 2013 we ran a similar event featuring five robots from the STRANDS project. You can find more about the past event on the 2013 STRANDS Marathon page, and read about the winner (Linda) on our blog.

European Robotics Week Logo

The Competition

The competition started at 10.00am GMT / 11.00am CET on November 24th, and will close on November 28th 4.00pm GMT / 5.00pm CET.

Between these dates the participating robots will attempt to run for as long as possible. If they get stuck they can ask for help from the people nearby. If they get low on battery then can charge themselves. If their expert handlers have to intervene to solve a problem, then their run must restart, resetting the distance and time accumulated.

Below you can see the current state of the competition. You can also follow our Twitter account for more updates, or search for the hashtag #RobotMarathon.

Best runs (distance and duration) for each robot

The following charts show the best runs for each robot. These are the runs for which each robot drove the furthest and kept going for the longest time.

All runs attempted this week

This chart shows the different runs each robot has attempted this week. A run ends when a robot has to be rescued from a difficult situation without first requesting help.

The Robots

Each of the six universities in the STRANDS project have a MetraLabs SCITOS A5 robot. Each one is competing in the marathon at their home university. You can find out more about each one from the links below. This year we also very happy to welcome participants from the Institute for Software Technology, Graz University of Technology (Wowbagger2) and the Neuroinformatics and Cognitive Robotics Lab, TU Ilmenau (entry pending...).

Robot Home Marathon Venue Twitter More
Bob IRLab, School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham Main Library, University of Birmingham @BobStrands
Karl Computer Vision group, RWTH Aachen University Lab @KarlTheRobot
Linda LCAS, School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln The Collection Museum @LindaStrands Streaming
Lucie School of Computing, University of Leeds School of Computing Foyer @LucieStrands
Rosie Centre for Autonomous Systems, KTH Royal Institute of Technology KTH CVAP @RosieStrands
Werner Vision for Robotics group, Vienna University of Technology Ground Floor, Faculty for Electrical Engineering, Gusshausstrasse 27-29 @Werner_TUW
Wowbagger2 Institute for Software Technology, Graz University of Technology Lab @Wobagger2ERW14 Updates

Background

Autonomous robots are robots which can make decisions for themselves. The majority of robots in use in the real world today are teleoperated, which means they are operated remotely by humans. Autonomous mobile robots have been researched by the robotics and artificial intelligence communities for many years, but few such robots have made it outside of the lab. The STRANDS project is dedicated to exploring both the technology required to enable such robots to leave the lab and work reliably in the real world. We are also researching the things such robots can learn once they're able to run for long periods in the real world. In the next few years we will deploy our robots in care and security applications in real industrial settings.

For more information on the STRANDS project please visit our homepage, follow us on Twitter, or contact the project coordinator, Nick Hawes.

You can also read media reports on the STRANDS project and related topcis from The Telegraph, BBC, and ITV.

You can find more about European Robotics Week here.

For an accessible introduction to the difficulties in creating autonomous robots, see the video below.