VRC and VIQC German Masters in Hamburg: German finals of robotics competitions

Hamburg, February 2024: Next week, the final rounds of the VEX robot competitions will take place in Germany. Around 150 students from general education schools and vocational schools from all over Germany meet at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg) to find out which of the robots they have designed best solves given tasks. The worldwide competitions of the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation, which is based in the USA, are organized in Germany by the Hamburg-based association roboMINT. 

The Competition Categories

The VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) is open to students from the age of eleven . A team consists of at least two students, it competes in alliances  against other teams. One of the goals of a game is to get as many tripballs as  possible into your own goal or into your own offensive zone. 

As part of the VEX IQ Challenge, students between the ages of eight and 15 can participate. A team consists of at least two students, it competes together with another team. One of the goals of the game is to convert as many blocks as possible into goals. Points are also awarded if the robot is parked in the „Supply Zone“ at the end of a match. 

Through the German Masters, participants can qualify for the VEX Worlds from April 25  to May 3 in Dallas (US state of Texas) with 1,000 teams from 50 countries .

German Masters 

Venue: HAW Hamburg 

Berliner Tor 21, Aula 

Wednesday, 06.03.: VRC, start qualification 1 at 12.30 p.m. 

Thursday, 07.03.: VRC, start qualification 2 at 9.30 a.m., final: 1.00 p.m.

Friday, 08.03.: VIQC, start qualification at 11.00 a.m., final: 3.45 p.m.

Contac persont: 

Ralph Schanz
Chairman of roboMINT e.V.

About the roboMINT e.V.:

It all started in the 2017/2018 season. Together with the student campus dEin Labor of the TU Berlin, roboMINT conducted the first VEX Robotics student competitions in Germany. The first team to qualify for the annual „World Championships“ in the USA was the Heinitz-Gymnasium Rüdersdorf. In the meantime, there are various regional preliminaries and two „Nationals“ (VIQC and VRC) nationwide. Currently, a total of seven teams from Germany can qualify for the „World Championships“ in Dallas each season. 

roboMINT supports and coordinates the nationwide VEX robotics competitions. The association informs and supports the participating teams, the supervisors and the regional organizers. The aim of the association is to promote STEM education in Germany. 

VRC und VIQC German Masters an der HAW: Deutschland-Finale der Robotik-Wettbewerbe

  • 6. bis 8. März 2024, Hamburg
  • Insgesamt 35 Teams treffen in zwei Wettbewerben aufeinander
  • Den Siegern winkt eine Teilnahme an der VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas

Hamburg, Februar 2024: In der kommenden Woche finden die Endrunden der VEX-Roboterwettbewerbe in Deutschland statt. An der Hochschule für Angewandte  Wissenschaften Hamburg (HAW Hamburg) treffen sich etwa 150 Schüler von  allgemeinbildenden Schulen und Berufsschulen aus ganz Deutschland, um  herausfinden, welcher der von ihnen konstruierten Roboter vorgegebene Aufgaben  am besten löst. Der weltweiten Wettbewerbe der in den USA beheimateten Robotics  Education & Competition (REC) Foundation werden hierzulande vom Hamburger Verein roboMINT organisiert. 

Die Wettbewerbskategorien 

An der VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) können Schüler im Alter ab elf Jahren  teilnehmen. Ein Team besteht aus mindestens zwei Schülern, es tritt in Allianzen  gegen andere Teams an. Ziel eines Spiels ist es unter anderem, so viele Triballs wie  möglich ins eigene Tor oder in die eigene Offensive Zone zu bringen. 

Im Rahmen der VEX IQ Challenge können Schüler im Alter von acht bis 15 Jahren  teilnehmen. Ein Team besteht aus mindestens zwei Schülern, es tritt zusammen mit  einem anderen Team an. Ziel des Spiels ist es unter anderem, möglichst viele Blöcke  in Tore zu verfrachten. Punkte gibt es auch, wenn der Roboter am Ende eines  Matches in der „Supply Zone“ geparkt wird. 

Über die German Masters können sich die Teilnehmer für die VEX Worlds vom 25.  April bis 3. Mai in Dallas (US-Bundesstaat Texas) mit 1.000 Teams aus 50 Ländern  qualifizieren.

German Masters 

Veranstaltungsort: HAW Hamburg 

Berliner Tor 21, Aula 

Mittwoch, 06.03.: VRC, Start Qualifikation 1 um 12.30 Uhr 

Donnerstag, 07.03.: VRC, Start Qualifikation 2 um 9.30 Uhr, Finale: 13.00 Uhr

Freitag, 08.03.: VIQC, Start Qualifikation um 11.00 Uhr, Finale: 15.45 Uhr  

Fachlicher Ansprechpartner: 

Ralph Schanz 
Vorsitzender des roboMINT e.V. 

Über den roboMINT e.V.: 

Begonnen hat alles in der Saison 2017/2018. Zusammen mit dem Schülercampus  dEin Labor der TU Berlin führte roboMINT die ersten VEX Robotics Schülerwettbewerbe in Deutschland durch. Das erste Team, das sich damals für die  alljährlich stattfindenden „Weltmeisterschaften“ in den USA qualifizierte, war das  Heinitz-Gymnasium Rüdersdorf. Mittlerweile gibt es bundesweit diverse regionale  Vorausscheidungen und zwei „Nationals“ (VIQC und VRC). Aktuell können sich pro  Saison insgesamt sieben Teams aus Deutschland für die „Weltmeisterschaften“ in  Dallas qualifizieren. 

roboMINT unterstützt und koordiniert die bundesweit stattfindenden VEX Robotik Wettbewerbe. Der Verein informiert und betreut die teilnehmenden Teams, die  BetreuerInnen und die regionalen Veranstalter. Ziel des Vereins ist die Förderung der  MINT-Bildung in Deutschland. 

Teilnehmer des Qualifikationsturniers in Stuttgart

Unidice: The Future of Gaming, Gamification and Smart Home Integration

The gaming world is on the cusp of a groundbreaking revolution with the introduction of the unidice, a new console that promises to redefine our understanding of games and gamification. This innovative device, blending cutting-edge technology with traditional gaming fun, offers a rich gaming experience and opens the door to a wide range of gamification applications. Furthermore, the unidice’s integration of generative AI in some of their Apps, particularly within the Tale Spinner application, along with a machine learning core that powers its Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), signals a leap toward more interactive and intelligent gaming and beyond. An especially notable feature is its compatibility with the Matter protocol, thanks to its new and improved processor, making it an ideal tool for smart home management.

The Unidice: A Nexus of Hybrid Gaming 

At its heart, the unidice is an electronic dice featuring six touch displays, a processor, a gyroscope, and dual storage systems, designed to facilitate seamless communication via Bluetooth with smartphones and tablets. This capability allows for a hybrid gaming experience that combines the physical pleasure of rolling dice with the limitless possibilities of digital innovation. Beyond enhancing traditional gaming experiences, this feature significantly broadens the horizon for gamification in various domains, including education and sports. Moreover, with its compatibility with the Matter protocol, the unidice also steps into the realm of smart home technology, offering users a unique and interactive way to control and automate their home environments.

Unidice and Robotics: Pioneering Smart Device Interaction

In a notable showcase of its expansive capabilities, the unidice demonstrated control over a car provided by fishertechnik, highlighting its potential in robotics and smart device interaction. This feature is a testament to the versatility of the unidice, illustrating its capacity to extend beyond gaming and home automation into the realm of educational robotics and interactive learning. By integrating with physical devices, the unidice opens up new possibilities for gamification and educational applications, offering a hands-on approach to technology and engineering concepts. To witness this remarkable feature in action, explore the video from the convention where unidice displays the new features, games, and notably, the car control.

Generative AI and Tale Spinner: A New Chapter in Storytelling 

The unidice revolutionizes storytelling through its Tale Spinner application, which uses generative AI to create personalized stories for children. By rolling the dice and selecting main topics, kids can generate new story segments narrated by an AI voice, powered by GPT-4 Turbo and Whisper. This innovative use of generative AI transforms the unidice from a mere gaming console into a dynamic storytelling companion, encouraging creativity and a love for reading in young users.

Machine Learning and the IMU: Enhancing Interaction The unidice incorporates a machine learning core within its IMU, enabling it to „learn“ new input methods (thanks to firmware updates) and improve its movement and orientation detection. This advancement makes interactions more intuitive and responsive, paving the way for more immersive gaming and gamification applications.

Smart Home Integration: The Matter Protocol Advantage 

The unidice’s ability to use the Matter protocol, enabled by its advanced processor, marks a significant development in smart home integration. This feature allows the unidice to act as a smart home controller, providing a novel and interactive method for managing and automating home environments. Through simple gestures, taps, tilts and rolls, users can control lighting, temperature, and other smart devices, making the unidice a central hub for both entertainment and home management.

The unidice exemplifies the convergence of gaming, artificial intelligence, robotics, and smart home technology, heralding a new era of interactive entertainment and practical utility. Its fusion of physical gaming with digital innovation, powered by generative AI and machine learning, positions it as a pioneering console in not only the gaming industry but also in the broader context of smart living. As we move forward, the unidice stands as a pioneer to the potential of blending traditional gaming elements with the latest technological advancements to create experiences that are entertaining, educational, and enriching, while also seamlessly integrating into our daily lives through smart home technology.

Discover more about unidice and secure your own by visiting their website at www.unidice.world and preordering at https://unidice.stimulus-games.com/.

Mehr als ein tanzender Lautsprecher: Der Playtastic App-programmierbare Roboter

Der Playtastic App-programmierbare Roboter ist ein Spielzeug, das nicht nur Spaß macht, sondern auch die Kreativität und das technische Verständnis fördert. Mit der kostenlosen App für iOS und Android kann man den Roboter fernsteuern und programmieren, um ihm über 130 verschiedene Bewegungen beizubringen. Der Roboter kann auch als Lautsprecher verwendet werden, um Musik von einem Smartphone oder einer Speicherkarte abzuspielen. Dabei tanzt er passend zur Musik und leuchtet mit seinen Augen in verschiedenen Farben.

Der Roboter ist aus Kunststoff gefertigt und hat eine Größe von 17,8 x 11,2 x 8,4 cm. Er wiegt 326 g und ist somit leicht zu transportieren. Er verfügt über einen Li-Ion-Akku mit 1.800 mAh, der per USB-C geladen wird und bis zu 4 Stunden Laufzeit bietet. Im Test konnte ich diese Laufzeit erreichen und somit bestätigen. Der Roboter hat vier Bedientasten für die Musik-Steuerung, einen Steckplatz für eine microSD-Karte bis 32 GB, wobei auch größere Karten bei mir funktionierten (getestet, obwohl ich keine SD Karte benötigte, da ich hauptsächlich per Bluetooth gestreamt habe) und einen Lautsprecher mit einer Ausgangsleistung von 5 Watt. Er hat außerdem zwei Arme und zwei Beine, die sich in verschiedene Richtungen bewegen können. Seine Augen bestehen aus LEDs, die in sieben verschiedenen Farben leuchten können.

Die App für den Roboter ist einfach zu bedienen und bietet verschiedene Funktionen. Ich habe auf einem Poco F3, also einem Android Gerät, problemlos getestet. Man kann den Roboter per Bluetooth mit dem Smartphone oder Tablet verbinden und ihn dann über eine virtuelle Fernbedienung steuern. Man kann ihn nach vorne, hinten, rechts und links laufen lassen oder ihn drehen. Man kann auch seine Augenfarbe ändern und ihn sprechen lassen. Die App bietet auch eine Programmier-Funktion, mit der man den Roboter eigene Tänze lernen lassen kann. Man kann aus einer Liste von Bewegungen auswählen und diese in einer bestimmten Reihenfolge anordnen. Man kann auch die Musik, den Rhythmus, die Geschwindigkeit und die Augenfarbe festlegen. Die App zeigt dann eine Vorschau des Tanzes an und man kann ihn speichern oder direkt ausführen lassen. Er ist zwar noch nicht ganz als „Let’s Dance“ Kandidat qualifiziert oder so agil wie Atlas von Boston Dynamics, ist aber eine nett anzuschauende Unterhaltung beim Musik hören; irgendwie putzig. Vor allem jüngere Nutzer werden beeindruckt sein. Die App hat auch eine Musik-Funktion, mit der man Musik von einem Smartphone oder einer Speicherkarte abspielen kann. Der Roboter tanzt dann automatisch zur Musik und leuchtet mit seinen Augen.

Der Playtastic App-programmierbare Roboter ist ein unterhaltsames und lehrreiches Spielzeug, das Kinder und Erwachsene gleichermaßen begeistert. Er bietet viele Möglichkeiten, um den Roboter und seine Tänze individuell zu gestalten und ihm neue Fähigkeiten beizubringen. Die einen werden ihn hauptsächlich als interaktiven Lautsprecher sehen, während die anderen den lustigen Roboter-Begleiter in ihm sehen. Der Roboter ist robust und somit hoffentlich langlebig und hat ein gutes Preis-Leistungs-Verhältnis. Er ist eine tolle Geschenkidee für alle, die sich für Robotik interessieren oder einfach nur Spaß haben wollen beim Musikhören. Der Playtastic App-programmierbare Roboter ist sowohl als interaktiver Lautsprecher als auch Roboter-Spielzeug überzeugend.

Der Roboter ist hier bei Pearl erhältlich, der Preis liegt aktuell um die 50€:

Experience the Future of Companionship with Doly, Launched by Limitbit soon on Kickstarter

Limitbit, a pioneer in AI powered companion technology, has announced the launch of its groundbreaking product, Doly, on Kickstarter. As of today, Doly has already captured the imagination of tech enthusiasts and educators, raising significant interest ahead of its official Kickstarter launch scheduled for February 13, 2024. 

Doly, launch day special priced at $289, is an autonomous AI-powered companion robot that seamlessly integrates robotics, AI, and coding education into one dynamic device. It is the first of its kind to offer an open hardware and open design, powered by Raspberry Pi, allowing customization and continual evolution in capabilities. 

„Doly represents a fusion of companionship, education, and technological innovation,“ says Levent Erenler, founder of Limitbit. „It’s designed to grow and adapt, offering an engaging experience for all ages and skill levels. Our open-source approach places Doly at the forefront of personal robotic innovation.“ 

Product highlights of Doly include: 

Self-acting Personality: A unique character that develops and evolves through interaction, offering a personalized experience. 

Edge AI Processing: Ensuring maximum privacy, Doly’s AI algorithms operate locally, without relying on cloud processing, safeguarding user data.

STEM Education Enabler: Doly serves as an engaging tool for learning coding and robotics, catering to both beginners and advanced users. 

Open-Source Platform: Users can innovate and customize Doly, thanks to its open hardware and open design, fostering a community-driven approach to technological advancement. 

Extensive Add-On Support: Featuring a range of I/O ports, Doly offers extensive opportunities for expansion and customization, perfect for developers and hobbyists. 

3D Printable Design: Emphasizing its customizable nature, Doly can be personalized with 3D printed parts, allowing users to tailor its appearance and functions. 

Targeted towards a wide audience that includes robot lovers, parents, children, software and hardware developers, and open-source enthusiasts, Doly is positioned as the ultimate educational and interactive robot companion. 

„Doly is not just a product; it’s a step towards a future where technology enhances every aspect of learning and daily living,“ added Levent Erenler. „Its ability to engage users in coding, robotics, and AI, while also serving as a companion robot, sets a new benchmark in the field.“ 

About Limitbit: 

Based in Markham, Ontario, Limitbit is dedicated to revolutionizing AI powered companion robots. Their mission is to blend cutting-edge technology with practical, educational applications, making advanced robotics accessible to everyone. 

For more information about Doly and to participate in the Kickstarter campaign, click here. 

Robot plays „Rock, Paper, Scissors“ – Part 1/3

Gesture recognition with intelligent camera

I am passionate about technology and robotics. Here in my own blog, I am always taking on new tasks. But I have hardly ever worked with image processing. However, a colleague’s LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot, which can recognize the rock, paper or scissors gestures of a hand with several different sensors, gave me an idea: „The robot should be able to ’see‘.“ Until now, the respective gesture had to be made at a very specific point in front of the robot in order to be reliably recognized. Several sensors were needed for this, which made the system inflexible and dampened the joy of playing. Can image processing solve this task more „elegantly“?

Rock-Paper-Scissors with Robot Inventor by Seshan Brothers. The robot which inspired me for this project

From the idea to implementation

In my search for a suitable camera, I came across IDS NXT – a complete system for the use of intelligent image processing. It fulfilled all my requirements and, thanks to artificial intelligence, much more besides pure gesture recognition. My interest was woken. Especially because the evaluation of the images and the communication of the results took place directly on or through the camera – without an additional PC! In addition, the IDS NXT Experience Kit came with all the components needed to start using the application immediately – without any prior knowledge of AI.

I took the idea further and began to develop a robot that would play the game „Rock, Paper, Scissors“ in the future – with a process similar to that in the classical sense: The (human) player is asked to perform one of the familiar gestures (scissors, stone, paper) in front of the camera. The virtual opponent has already randomly determined his gesture at this point. The move is evaluated in real time and the winner is displayed.

The first step: Gesture recognition by means of image processing

But until then, some intermediate steps were necessary. I began by implementing gesture recognition using image processing – new territory for me as a robotics fan. However, with the help of IDS lighthouse – a cloud-based AI vision studio – this was easier to realize than expected. Here, ideas evolve into complete applications. For this purpose, neural networks are trained by application images with the necessary product knowledge – such as in this case the individual gestures from different perspectives – and packaged into a suitable application workflow.

The training process was super easy, and I just used IDS Lighthouse’s step-by-step wizard after taking several hundred pictures of my hands using rock, scissor, or paper gestures from different angles against different backgrounds. The first trained AI was able to reliably recognize the gestures directly. This works for both left- and right-handers with a recognition rate of approx. 95%. Probabilities are returned for the labels „Rock“, „Paper“, „Scissor“, or „Nothing“. A satisfactory result. But what happens now with the data obtained?

Further processing

The further processing of the recognized gestures could be done by means of a specially created vision app. For this, the captured image of the respective gesture – after evaluation by the AI – must be passed on to the app. The latter „knows“ the rules of the game and can thus decide which gesture beats another. It then determines the winner. In the first stage of development, the app will also simulate the opponent. All this is currently in the making and will be implemented in the next step to become a „Rock, Paper, Scissors“-playing robot.

From play to everyday use

At first, the project is more of a gimmick. But what could come out of it? A gambling machine? Or maybe even an AI-based sign language translator?

To be continued…

Geek Club and CircuitMess Launch a NASA-inspired DIY Perseverance Educational Space Rover Kit

After a series of successful Kickstarter Campaigns, Geek Club and CircuitMess launch their most ambitious project yet – a NASA-approved AI-powered scale model Replica of the Perseverance Space Rover  

Zagreb, Croatia – October 31st, 2023. – Today, Geek Club and CircuitMess announced their Kickstarter space exploration campaign designed to teach children eleven and up about engineering, AI, and coding by assembling the iconic NASA Perseverance Space Rover, as well as a series of other NASA-inspired space vehicles.

This new space-themed line of DIY educational products was born out of both companies‘ shared vision to aim for the stars and to take their fans with them. The Kickstarter campaign starts today, October 31st, and will last for 35 days.

The collaboration was a logical union of the two companies. Both companies create educational STEM DIY kits that are targeted towards kids and adults. Both share the same mission: To make learning STEM skills easy and fun.

“For decades, the team and I have been crafting gadgets for geeks always inspired by space exploration,” says Nicolas Deladerrière, co-founder of Geek Club. “Inspired by Mars exploration, we’ve studied thousands of official documents and blueprints to craft an authentic Mars exploration experience. The product comes alive thanks to microchips, electromotors, and artificial intelligence. Imagine simulating your own Mars mission right from your desk!”

Geek Club is an American company that specializes in designing and producing DIY robotics kits that educate their users on soldering and electronics. They focus primarily on space exploration and robotics, all to make learning engineering skills easy and fun for kids, adults, and everyone in between.

“We have successfully delivered seven Kickstarter campaigns, raised more than 2.5 million dollars, and made hundreds of thousands of geeks all around the world extremely happy,” says Albert Gajšak, CEO of CircuitMess. “In a universe where space and technology are constantly growing, we’re here to ensure you’re never left behind.”

The new product line consists of five unique space-themed products:

  • 1. The Perseverance Space Rover Kit

This kit is designed to be an educational journey into programming, electronics, robotics, and AI. The model comes with four electromotors, six wheels, a control system with a dual-core Espressif ESP32 processor, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity, a sample collection arm based on the real thing with two servo motors, a Wi-Fi-connected remote controller, and support for programming in Python or via a Scratch-inspired drag-and-drop visual coding environment.

Alongside the Perseverance Space Rover, you’ll be able to get more iconic space vehicles:

  • 2. The Voyager: A DIY kit made as a tribute to NASA’s longest-lasting mission, which has been beaming back data for an incredible 45 years and counting.
  • 3. Juno: A solar-powered DIY kit celebrating the mission that gave us the most detailed and breathtaking images of Jupiter.
  • 4. Discovery: A DIY kit honoring the legendary space shuttle with 39 successful orbital flights under its belt.
  • 5. The Artemis Watch: A sleek, space-themed wrist gadget inspired by NASA’s upcoming Artemis space suit design. The watch is a programmable device equipped with an LCD display, Bluetooth, and a gyroscope.

The Perseverance Educational Space Rover Kit is available for pre-order now on Kickstarter, starting at $149.

No previous experience or knowledge is needed for assembling your very own space rover. The kit is designed for anyone aged 11+  and comes with detailed video instructions.

You can visit the Kickstarter page here.