Contest

Remark: The organizers tried to describe the Tasks and assessments as good and fair as possible, but all teams should be aware of that we might need to modify the rules before or even during the contest! These ad hoc changes will always be decided by the jury members.

General information

The organizers expect that a general agreement between all participating teams is that the event is held in an “Olympic Manner”. The goal is a fair competition, without any technological or procedural cheating or gaining competitive advantage by not allowed technologies. The teams should even provide support to each other in all fairness.

Any observed or suspected cheating should be reported to the chair of the competition immediately.

The jury members are obliged to act as neutrals, especially when having connections to a participating team. All relevant communication will be in English. For pleasing national spectators the contest moderation could be partly in a national language.

In 2018 five tasks will be prepared to challenge different abilities of the robots in terms of sensing, navigation and actuation: Basic Navigation, Advanced Navigation, Sensing, Weeding Control and Free Style (option).

If teams come with more than one machine the scoring and ranking will always be machine related and not team related.

All participating teams must contribute to the event proceedings with an article describing the machine in more details and perhaps their ideas behind or development strategies in general.

During the machine runs for each task no team members are allowed to be in the inner contest area where the maize plants are and close to the robot during the performance. If the robot performance fails, it has to be stopped from outside with a remote switch. To enter the inner contest area is only allowed after (!) the robot has stopped. The control switch activating team member then can go to the machine and manually correct it. When the team member has left the inner contest area only then the robot is allowed to continue its operation. This procedure shall promote the autonomous mode during the contest and make the performance more attractive to spectators.

General Rules

The use of a GNSS receiver is not allowed except for the Free Style in Task 5. (If you wish to use a GNSS, you must bring your own.) The focus for the other tasks shall be on relative positioning and sensor based behaviors.

Crop Plants and Damage

The crop plant in tasks 1 to 4 is maize (corn) or Zea Mays . The maize plants will have a height of 20 – 40 cm (Plant density 10 m-² , row width of 0.75 m, plant spacing 0.133 m). The general appearance of the crop plants is location specific as well as yearly specific.

A damaged plant is a maize plant that is permanently bent, broken or uprooted. The decision that a maize plant is damaged by a machine or not would be made by the jury members.

Parc Fermé

During the contests, all robots have to wait in the parc fermé and no more machine modification to change the machine performance is allowed with regards to fairness. All PC connections (wired and wireless) have to be removed or switched off and an activation of a battery saving mode is recommended. This shall avoid having an advantage not being the first robot to conduct the task. The starting order will be random. When a robot will move to the starting point, the next robot will already be asked by the parc fermé officer to prepare for starting.

Navigation

The drive paths of the robots shall be between the crop rows and not above rows. Large robots or robots which probably partly damage the field or plants will always start after the other robots, including the second chance starting robots. However, damaged plants will be replaced by spare ones, to always ensure the same operation conditions for each run.

General requirements for all robots

Autonomous Mode

All robots must act autonomously in all tasks, including the freestyle. Driving by any remote controller during the task is not allowed at any time. This includes steering, motion and all features that produce movement or action at the machine. Stopping and starting function for manual corrections of the machine is the only exception.

During start, the robot is placed at the beginning of the first row. The starting line is marked with a white cross line. Any part of robot must not exceed the white line in the start. For signaling the start and end of a task there will be a clear acoustic signal. After the start signal the robot must start within one minute. If the robot does not start within this time, it will get a second chance after all other teams finished their runs, but it must – after a basic repair – as soon as possible brought back into the parc fermé. If the robot fails twice, the robot will be excluded from that task.

Start and Stop Controller

All robots must be equipped with and connected to one wireless remote START/STOP controller. Additional remote displays are allowed but without user interaction, e.g. laptop.
Preferably, the remote controller is a device with two buttons clearly marked START and STOP. Alternatively, the coding may be done with clear green and red colors.
It is allowed to use a rocker switch with ON/OFF position with hold, if the ON and OFF are clearly marked with text in the remote controller.
Any button of the remote controller may not be touched for more than one second at a time. In other words, a button, which has to be pressed all the time, is not allowed.
Remote controller may contain other buttons or controls than the required/allowed START/STOP inputs, but no other button may be used at any time during any task.
Before the start of any task, the remote controller must be placed on the table that is located at the edge of the field. One member of the team may touch the START and STOP inputs of the remote controller. The possible remote display must be placed on the same table too.
The remote controller must be presented to the Jury members before the run. A jury member will watch the use of the START/STOP remote controller during the task execution.
In each task, the robot must be started by using the remote controller START input, not pressing any buttons of the robot itself.
During any task, while the robot is stopped in the field by using the remote controller, it is allowed to use any buttons of the robot itself, e.g. to change the state of navigation system.
While the robot is STOPPED and one team member is allowed to be in the field, besides rotating the robot, the team member is allowed to touch the buttons and other input devices mounted on the robot. Other remote controllers besides START/STOP controller are strictly prohibited to be used at any time.
Implementation note: If using Logitech Cordless Gamepad or equivalent as a remote controller, the recommended practice is to paint/tape one of the push button 1 green and push button 2 red, to mark START and STOP features.

Manual Correction of Robot

One team member is allowed to enter the field after the same (!) team member has pressed the STOP button of the remote controller and the robot has completely stopped (no motion). It is recommended to install some indicator onto the robot to see that the robot is in STOP mode before entering the field in order to avoid disqualification.
The START/STOP operator is also responsible for the eventually manual robot corrections. Due to the fact that it can be difficult for him/her to monitor the robot’s behavior from a large distance, another team member can be inside the 2 m area between a red textile tape and the crop plant area (see picture 1 and 2 at the end of this document). This second team member could give instructions to the operator, but this supporting person is only an observer and is not allowed in any case to enter the crop plant area or interact with the robot.
After leaving the remote control on the table, the operator is allowed to rotate – not to move – the robot in the field. The only exception for moving is within the row, where the robot may need to get back to the path if a wheel or track of the robot has collided stem of maize plant, to avoid further damage of plants. Carrying the robot is only allowed after significant navigation errors in order to bring it back (!) to the last correct position.
In the headland, only rotating to give the robot a new orientation is allowed, no moving or carrying is allowed at all.

Awards

The performance of the competing robots will be assessed by an independent expert jury committee. Beside measured or counted performance parameters, also creativity and originality especially in task 5 (Freestyle) will be evaluated. There will be an award for the first three ranks of each task. The basic navigation (1), advanced navigation (2), sensing (3), and weeding (4) together will yield the overall competition winner. Points will be given as follows:
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 etc.
Points 30 28 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 etc.
Participating teams result in at least 1 point, not participating teams result in 0 points. If two or more teams have the same number of points for the overall ranking, the team with the better placements during all four tasks (1, 2, 3 and 4) will be ranked higher.

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