After two weeks of travelling in Europe, the next part of my journey was to participate in the RoboCup competition.  The team that I am part of, the UBC Thunderbots, would be participating in the RoboCup 2013 competition in Eindhoven.  But before that began, we spent a few days in Mannheim play a few games with two of the German teams: ER-Force from the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen and the Mannheim Tigers from the Duale Hochschule of Baden Württemberg.

This gave us a lot of opportunities to find out what was wrong with our robots before the real competition began. We found out that are mechanical and electrical systems were quite robust, while our software system was the weakest link of the three.

In the downtime, we were taken on a tour of the nearby Eichbaum Brewery. The tour was quite difficult to follow because it was pretty much all in German. Even though I had learned some German, it was still quite difficult for me to follow.

I had been to Mannheim before and both times I went to Mannheim before this time, I had a very negative experience. The first time, I got food poisoning (I still remember which restaurant it was), and the second time, my friends and I waited at the Mannheim train station for 4 hours for a train to Berlin with a scheduled departure time of 12am.

Having had lived in Germany before meant I recognized a lot of brands like food chains, department stores, cell phone companies, etc. Because of that, my teammates often asked me different things about Germany such as how German phone plans worked and how to sign up for a plan. I explained it to them and even asked the cashier at the supermarket who didn’t speak English about phone plans.

On another day, we were also taken on a tour to the nearby city of Heidelberg. I had also been here before and vaguely knew my way around. We hiked up to the castle again, but we were there in the evening so the inside of the castle was closed by the time we arrived, so we just went as high as we could.

After spending a few days in Mannheim, all three of the teams organized transportation together to Eindhoven, where the real competition would begin. The workshop allowed us to see what our robots were capable of and what we could improve on early, so that we would be better prepared for the real thing.

Link to photo album here