Battling Robots: European Robotics Cup
Telecom ParisTech (Paris, France)
The Telecom Robotics club at Telecom ParisTech (an engineering college in the French Grandes Écoles system) is using Ada and the GNAT technology for its projects.
Telecom Robotics’ mission is to provide a robotics-focused forum where students can learn, share knowledge, and innovate. To help realize this goal, the group competes in European Robotics Cup contests where they explore all aspects of the subject: mechanics, electronics (embedded electronics, microprocessors, FPGAs), computer science (programming, image processing) and project management. In 2010, Telecom Robotics finished in the top ten (out of 150 competitors) and came in 3rd place in the Czech cup.
Ada was selected as the language for programming the robot. As explained by Fabien Laurent, a student at Telecom ParisTech and this year’s president of the Telecom Robotics club: “We chose Ada because of its reliability, safety, and efficiency, and because the various checks enforced by the compiler make it easier to maintain code as the system evolves or requirements change. And thanks to AdaCore’s GNAT Academic Program, universities have a top-quality Ada development environment, including support, at no cost.” The issues that the team encountered during the European Robotics Cup contests were were mechanical and not software related; the embedded Ada code was completely reliable.
The target configuration is an SH4 processor running GNU Linux. The software for this year’s robot processed sensor data to locate its opponents, used camera data to detect items on the table, and adapted its strategy accordingly. The image and data analysis, traction control, and artificial intelligence represent over 15,000 lines of Ada code.
In light of their successful experience on this project, Telecom Robotics is continuing with Ada and GNAT for future efforts, including a robot based on LEGO Mindstorms.