Festival della Scienza

Genova, October-November 2003

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The scientific divulgation magazine FOCUS invited us as testimonials at a large Science Festival, organized in Genova, Italy, in October/November 2003.


The organizers proposed us to play under a beautiful tensostructure designed by Renzo Piano in the Old Port of Genova.


Since the setup days it become evident that the place was challenging...


Sunlight shades could reach the field both from the top, filtering in between the elements of the tensostructure, and from the side.

Moreover, a black, shiny, plastic wall separated only partially the field from the surrounding red carpet (red was the color of the main sponsor and green that of their main competitor), and it was easily deformated by people, so that reflexes and color changed a lot.



Fighting against the adverse conditions we could show only sometimes some interesting actions by playing two against two.

We could also show some challenges, such as the "go to home" behavior of the goalie starting from the opponent area and
self-localizing using omnidirectional vision. See movie


When robots broke down, or while we were recalibrating colors, we have also given some fun to the younger visitors by letting them kicking a penalty.

They had no problems in interacting naturally with autonomous robots and understanding their limitations such as the reduced reaction speed of the goalie (requiring that they kick gently their penalty) or the fact that robots could misinterpret the color of the black wall and kick against what they "thought" to be a blue goal.


Lessons from this event

  • playing in outdoor environments requires the ability to classify colors under diffrerent light intensity in different parts of the field, also when playing under a tend or a roof
  • light may change dramatically also in a short time, due, for instance, to clouds moving in a windy day
  • people are really curious about autonomous robots, and, in general, can easily understand their functioning principles and limitations
  • people like to interact with autonomous robots and enjoy their expected (and planned) behavior as well as their funny, unexpected behavior. Children where not afraid of putting their hands inside the wall also when the robot was rushing against them
  • it is important to be ready to play under the sponsor's conditions


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