Competing in Robotics
“It’s much more motivating to cram for a competition than for an examination,” says Fredrik Löfgren, LiU student and project leader for the RoboCup Junior competition.
RoboCup Junior is an international competition for the construction and programming of robots. It’s a part of the major RoboCup initiative – one of the biggest robot competitions in the world, with thousands of participants from over 40 countries.
Linköping students are organising the Swedish qualifying rounds for RoboCup Junior (in Swedish Junior-VM i robotik) where children and young people up to the age of 19 can take part. The winners get to represent Sweden in the 2015 international finals, which will be held in Hefei, China.
Mr Löfgren, who is in the fourth year of his studies for a master’s in Engineering Physics and Electronics, is a previous participant in the competition and current project leader for the RoboCup Junior finals in Linköping. He is the youngest ever member of the technical committee, which is mainly composed of eminent researchers and teachers.
“RoboCup Junior has been held in Sweden since 2009. I took part the very first year, won the competition, and got to represent Sweden at the world championship in Austria.”
Since then, Mr Löfgren has won many competitions, in which he got to do things such as represent Sweden in Singapore and compete in the World Championships in Istanbul.
“After that I was too old; in 2012 I became team leader for one team and a judge for the national competition. I was also appointed to the international organizing committee of RoboCup Junior Rescue, and the technical committee.”
He has also been involved on the international stage, for example in Brazil where he wrote the rules for the next year’s competition. He was also team leader at the World Championships in Eindhoven. In 2013, Mr Löfgren started a student society whose aim was to organise RoboCup Junior in Sweden. The FIA student association (the Intelligent Autonomous Systems Society) grew, and now RoboCup Junior is just one of many events the society organises each year.
How do you select the participants?
“I was chosen as project leader for the competition by the board of the FIA, and then I appointed a project team of five people to help me plan and organise the competition in Linköping.”
The FIA is also organising a competition for university students and the public in conjunction with RoboCup Junior, so that more people can get the chance to compete with robots.
“I love to compete and I’ve competed in knowledge for a very long time,” Mr Löfgren says.
What has your involvement given you in practical terms?
“Being involved with robots has given me a great advantage in my studies here at the university. I have learned a great deal not only about electronics, programming and construction, but also about leadership and other cultures on my many travels, as well as how to collaborate on international projects.”
Mr Löfgren thinks it’s great to see how older researchers and professors listen to what he has to say, and he is looking forward to the next cooking competition that will be held in Madrid in November. It will consist of seeing how well the robots manage to cook tomato soup, write a shopping list and find and switch off a stove hob that has been left on.
He has already been offered jobs, but turned them down as he wants to finish his studies first before he starts his “real” working life.
Developing robots for space, robots that explore other planets and robots that work in caring for the elderly by doing all the heavy work so that staff can devote time to their personal contact with elderly people, are examples of dream jobs.
“I want to develop the technology of tomorrow and I’m open to everything that has to do with the development of technology. As I have worked with robots for 15 years, they are very dear to my heart.”
Text: Zen Dinah, student reporter
Photo: Julius Jeuthe, student photographer
4 Nov 2014
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Last updated: 2017-02-13