Well I'm back from American Open. Driving 11 hours each way and going negative in vacation days in order to go wasn't fun, but it was worth it.
I arrived really late Saturday night of the competition, while that's about the time my students started driving there. They got to Atlanta around lunchtime and we all managed to stay up to 4:30 in the morning that first night to get things recalibrated and working. But we finally had a working demo. It wasn't what we were originally hoping for (two robots playing "Pong"), but we had a robot chasing a ball, shooting a goal, and knowing not to go out of bounds on the field.
The next morning we set-up for the demo, but the ambient light now present during the daytime made the wall look to be about the same orange as the ball. The robot went crashing into the wall and our whole camera mount crashed. It didn't matter that we brought 4 sets of everything. Before that crash we were already down to our last working set.
Eventually through much fiddling with finicky dongles, we got the robot up and running, ran our demo, and took a nice video of it (which I still have yet to put online). Enough of a success to make us happy and we learned a great deal from going through the whole ordeal.
Meanwhile I also got to referee and assistant referee a few of the small-sized games, since I used to be on CMU's small-sized team and am an experienced referee from past RoboCups. We also watched quite a few AIBO and Segway games as well as went to the talks. The craziest AIBO game for me was the finals, with CMU versus UPenn. I am of course loyal to my alta mater, CMU. UPenn scored within the first 10 seconds of the game. The game is made up of two 10 minutes halves. The game remained scoreless until the last 55 seconds when CMU finally scored. They went into 5 minute goal-to-goal which pretty much just means "sudden death". CMU scored almost immediately.
I unfortunately could not stay to watch their game against Dortmund, the winners of the German Open, since I had such a long haul back and had to go to work the next day. But it was good to see all my fellow-RoboCuppers again. Maybe next year I can go again, and maybe actually as either staff or a grad student at some university this time instead of having to use vacation days. =)