Micro motor technology is teaming with optical image processing and specialized software to create tabletop soccer robots with amazing speed and precision.
What looks like a gadget is serious science and offers a significant potential for research and commerce as well. The research project, conducted by the University of Freiburg and the Gauselmann Group within the framework of a doctoral thesis by Thilo Weigel, targeted developing a specialized piece of “situational software” that also proves to be useful for tabletop soccer robots.
Theory is only good if it also works in practice. With this in mind, software developers chose an interactive approach to develop new software that reacts to different game situations. The system is designed to react intelligently to situational moves made in the game using modern processor technology and optical image processing via cameras for data input and evaluation. Durable, high speed dc motors perform as actuators. The table soccer game is demanding because of the complex play pattern and also the high speed of the ball.
Given the complexity of the operation, the table soccer robot is both a comparatively compact testing device and development environment. MicroMo Electronics, part of the FAULHABER Group, contributed drive know-how on how to design the requisite shooting power and mobility for the unit. High-end gaming equipment manufacturer,
High-end gaming equipment manufacturer, The Gauselmann Group, handled the practical configuration of the robot.
How it Works
An attached camera delivers the necessary inputs for what’s happening on the playing field. A PC provides actual game control with software for evaluating the current camera image every 20 msec to determine ball position plus speed and direction of the ball. Using this data, the program controls player movements and the bars that are used to horizontally position the player and control player rotation. Using these techniques, the ball can be struck successfully by players or parried by the goalkeeper.
One prime objective is to handle as little data as possible, while state-of-the-art data capture and distributed processing are essential.The infrared camera observes the field from below through the transparent playing field with approximately 300 infrared light emitting diodes on the border illuminating the playing field. The playing surface is covered with an infrared-permeable filter film, so that only the infrared rays reflected by the ball are detected by the camera.
The stream of data to the actuators is also minimized because the PC only issues high level commands such as “right”, “left” or “shoot” and relies on the motion controllers for fine-tuning.Standard FAULHABER motion controllers are optimally coordinated with the dc motors used in the system. The game depends on minimal computing times, which in turn are a result of the streamlined data set and the reduced delay times.
Two motors control each bar, and drives are positioned on the base plate of the device to move the players horizontally via cable pulls in the bars. The cable is looped around the respective driving drum several times to prevent them from slipping through as a result of increased friction which results in accurate, synchronous control of the players. A belt drive on the rear of the device controls shooting power by efficient rotation of the players.The motors have to respond very dynamically, but motion is only ever for a brief moment.
Quick-running standard dc motors with carbon brushes reach a peak power output of over 220W. Each driving motor utilizes a magnetic pulse generator to communicate player positions to the controller and uses 512 pulses per revolution to provide system resolution so fine that no ball can evade the players’ feet.
A motion controller in each motor provides actual control of the motor and angular momentum processing. At the start of play, the system drives the players into defined starting positions and evaluates the speed sensor data using RS-232 communications. The PC by issues commands to control of the players, which the motion controller converts into electrical impulses for the motor. Cable or belt sheaves provide the correct reduction during play. Taking into account the required acceleration values, the transmission is designed to insure the motors operate within the optimal speed range.
Combining tailor-made design and high-performance drive technology, the soccer robot game delivers solutions considered impossible just a few years ago. A highly efficient range of micro drive products is capable of mastering complex tasks -- combining creativity, skill and advanced drive systems into state-of-the-art designs.