Jonathan Fortin studied Business Management at Cégep Lionel-Groulx before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at ÉTS in Operations and Logistics Engineering. His Master’s project—and his passion—centers on the work done with the Naova student club whose objective is to win the RoboCup 2018.
Naova is an ÉTS student club founded in March 2017. The goal of this new project is to have six Nao robots play together in the RoboCup, an annual soccer competition involving teams of robots. The 2018 event will be held in Montreal. Supported by ÉTS, the club brings together students from different engineering departments, as the project covers a number of areas of expertise. Naova is an opportunity for Canada to stand out globally.
To understand the complexity of the tasks to be performed by the Naova members, let’s start with the basics. Nao robots must be able to locate their position on the field, pinpoint the opposing goal and find the ball. Without going any further, these basic functions involve several skills: navigation, recognition, communication… The robots, whose physical integrity cannot be modified, must analyze all this information in order to determine the best strategy to adopt for the game.
Things become more challenging when you consider the dynamic setting in which the robots must perform. Indeed, soccer is a team sport and the objective is to put the ball in the opponent’s goal. Robots must therefore learn to play as a team and take their teammates’ positions into account in order to counter their opponents and their goalkeeper. In turn, the opposing team will have its own strategy, which the robots will have to factor in.
Using an analogy, it can be said that the Naova team is trying to download the brain of a professional soccer player onto a USB key. All these constraints are pushing Naova members to innovate further by optimizing programming, neural networks and strategies for their Nao robots. By analyzing a complete soccer game, undergraduates get a better understanding of the issues and can identify specific applications from their research. The project gives them the opportunity to hone their problem-solving skills in a team-based environment while giving them international visibility.
All this work doesn’t just happen. Naova values sharing and advancement within the community. For this reason, all the work is based on open-source code. Naova members use free or home-made tools to help the community move forward with similar projects. The C++ language is favoured in this project because real time is essential in optimizing robotic communication and reactions. Implementation on the Robot Operating System (ROS) is a major challenge as there is still much work and innovation to be done in this area.
Naova is a club firmly focused on the future.
Jonathan Fortin is a Master’s student in Electrical Engineering at ÉTS. His thesis is based on his scientific Naova project. He is the founder of the Naova scientific research club and the Montreal Robocup2018 Technical and Logics Director.
Program : Electrical Engineering