Our school, Hwa Chong Robotics Club (HCRC), has participated in RoboCup every year since its inception in Singapore in 2009. Despite achieving somewhat commendable results in the initial years, our school’s performance gradually deteriorated. Year on year, we would churn out robots that were either incomplete or had programs that were barely working; landing a podium spot would have been nothing short of a miracle. Alas, all hope seemed lost…
In 2018, things finally took a turn for the better for HCRC. Clinching 1st in Soccer Lightweight and Rescue Line, as well as 2nd and 3rd in Soccer Open, it was our best performance yet.
The spark of a new beginning was ignited and Team Transcendence was born. We had one simple goal; not to win, not to be the best, but simply to create robots we could truly be proud of. Here are the stories of how it went.
Soccer Open has always been the main RoboCup league for us, being the only one we participated in for most of our club’s history. In 2018, the members of what would become Transcendence were all in separate teams, and many of us faced problems, be it from lack of certain technical knowledge or just general inexperience. Following the formation of Transcendence, we aimed to create a pair of Soccer Open robots that finally just worked.
Despite our simple dreams, 2019 was not meant to be for us. We started work really late, we neglected many things, some of us participated in other competitions, like the First Lego League, which clashed with the preparation schedule, and everything was done in a rush. The entire night before the competition was spent fervently trying to calibrate our IMU, which for some reason just stopped working and never did again throughout the whole competition. To call it a total disaster is an understatement. This failure hit especially hard since it was the final year for Benjamin, the most senior member of our team, who was one of the most talented mechanical designers in our club’s history and the first person who actually tried really hard to put our failing club back together.
With such a major setback, we vowed to never commit the same mistakes again; the same mistakes which had plagued our club for the past 10 years. With the dawn of the new decade, we promised to finish what we started; to accomplish the one simple goal which we could never seem to achieve. Work commenced early, with the new robots’ design completed before the start of 2020. Yet, as we ramped up into overdrive, feeling like we were on track for the first time, the world slowed down. Before we knew it, everything stopped. The world was brought to its knees with the Covid-19 pandemic and with it, our goals and aspirations.
For majority of the Soccer Open 2020 team members, where this is their last year, it was definitely not how they envisioned it to go… But life must go on. Although they might never witness the fruits of their labour in action, the least they could do is to record down every last detail of it, hopefully helping the future generation in some way with their Robocup journey.
And well, that is exactly what we have done. On the Open page, we have written about every single detail of the robot we could think of, and hopefully you, dear reader, can benefit from it.
HCRC had never participated in Soccer Lightweight in the past since members traditionally only joined the competition in Secondary 3, leaving 4 years which had to be fully focused on Soccer Open. However, in 2018, as part of our training reform plans, an experimental team of Secondary 2s was formed and coached by us to participate in this category. With a haphazardly built Lego base, a few messily soldered perfboards and an Arduino, a pair of semi-functional Soccer Lightweight robots was created. In spite of the incredible odds, the team came out barely victorious, with the Finals match ending with a thrilling 15-14 win. In the 2 months leading up to RoboCup Internationals, more “professional robots” were made and an Individual 8th place position was attained; not bad for our school’s first international appearance in almost 7 years.
Fuelled by the success of the previous year, we tried to repeat it again in 2019. A new team of Secondary 2s were formed, tasked to create a new set of Soccer Lightweight robots from scratch. However, with the many problems in the main Soccer Open team and over-ambitious plans, training was neglected and Lightweight became just as major a failure as Open was. From this, we realised a major problem in our system: if we took Soccer Lightweight as a “training league” for our juniors, the robots would not be well built, but the robots needed to be well built in order to achieve good results. Unlike in the Soccer Open teams where there were senior and junior teams, Lightweight only consisted of one junior team and our results in the category would be counting on them. A different system was needed if we wanted to take Lightweight seriously and actually do well in it.
As such, for 2020, Transcendence “split” across the 3 categories, officially registering in the separate categories but unofficially helping in all of them. For the Lightweight category, a two-man team comprising one experienced member and one first-timer was formed, with training done by direct tutelage. More details about the team’s progress can be found on the Soccer Lightweight page.
Similar to Soccer Lightweight, HCRC never took part in Rescue Line as Soccer Open had always been the only focus. However, in 2018, a few members which did not have much prior experience in Robotics joined HCRC. With the competition coming up in 3 months, a new team was created to participate in the Rescue Line category that year. Despite being novices at Robotics, the team worked hard and managed to finish as champions in the Singapore Open using a Lego Mindstorms robot, thus, qualifying for RoboCup Internationals. The team went on to integrate Arduino components with Lego Mindstorms for the International competition.
With Rescue Line now on our radar, HCRC teams across various levels have continued participating since then. After much observation, we felt that progress in Rescue Line had somewhat stagnated both in terms of robot designs as well as the program quality. Thus, taking inspiration from micromouse robots, combined with the introduction of many changes in the rules, we became motivated to take part in Rescue Line for 2020. Details about the robot we created can be found on the Rescue Line page.
By the end of 2020, our 6-man team will be reduced to 2 as most of the seniors will have graduated. With so many years in the making, Transcendence has transcended beyond just a simple team; it has become the physical embodiment of the spirit of a continuous pursuit for excellence in our club, and to nurture a new batch of Transcendence Jr. would be vital in keeping this spirit alive.
Finding and nurturing worthy successors is a difficult and arduous process, for a member of Transcendence must encompass not only adequate knowledge and skills, but more importantly, the Transcendence philosophy.
For now, the future is hopeful, but definitely uncertain…
To be at the forefront of innovation is a prerequisite; to continually forge new frontiers is a habit. Why strive to be the best, when you can strive to go beyond?
Who we are
We are Team Transcendence, a group of students from Hwa Chong Institution whom are participating across three categories of Robocup, namely Soccer Open, Soccer Lightweight, and Rescue Line.
To be transcendent is to exist beyond what is considered a “normal” level, in other words, to exceed usual limits. It can also mean to be universally significant. This is exactly what Team Transcendence strives to be: to exceed expectations of what is possible through constant innovation, to leave an imprint in everything we do through our revolutionary works, and, hopefully, inspire others to do the same through striving to go beyond what they previously thought they were capable of.
What sets our team apart is that on top of the typical values of innovation and perseverance, we closely live by our own three core values: self-directedness, interdisciplinarity and versatility
We pride ourselves in being the ONLY team in Singapore, who have never had a coach since the beginning. Every step of the robot’s construction process, from the first line of our robot’s design to the last line of code in our program, is completely done by us without any external help. Our unwavering insistence on self-directedness has definitely not made our journey easy and has even caused us to fail spectacularly on multiple occasions. However, we have always remained firm about doing everything ourselves because we believe that we should take full responsibility of our learning and thus hold ourselves fully accountable for the results we get, be it good or bad.
Every member of our team are expert generalists; we each specialise in multiple areas while keeping up a certain level of understanding in all other areas because we recognise and embrace the interdisciplinary nature of robotics. We utilise our naturally curious minds to learn as much as we can while maintaining a high level of focus into becoming the best we can be in our areas of specialisation. We understand the importance of investing in ourselves through knowledge as it allows us to parallelise our workflow much more efficiently, since every member will always be able to make progress in different areas at all times.
Versatility connotates both adaptability and agility. On top of maintaining a wide range of skills, we see great significance in having as many opportunities as possible to apply our skills across a wide variety of scenarios. The importance of versatility extends far beyond the present; in an increasingly volatile future, the ability to adapt quickly will be a necessary skill to survive. To remain versatile is to maintain relevance. This is why most of us are involved in multiple categories of Robocup, so as to train ourselves in putting our skills to use in multiple situations.
To us, Transcendence symbolises more than just a team; it is a way of life. It is a set of principles to live life to the fullest, a motivation to push ourselves to exceed our expectations and an inspiration for a better future.
Tan Kai Cong
Hello, I am Kai Cong! I am the mechanical designer for Soccer Open, electronics designer for Soccer Lightweight, and the developer of robot strategy and other locomotion-related programming for both Soccer Open and Lightweight.
Lim Jing Heng
Hello, I am Jing Heng! I am the electronics designer for Soccer Open, as well as the mechanical designer and programmer for Rescue Line.
Hi I am Justin! I am in charge of software side of the open robot, programming both the camera and the robot!
Hi I’m Yijian, the mechanical designer for Rescue Line! #Team8076Z
Yeo Dun Yu
Hi I'm Dun Yu! I am the mechanical designer for Rescue Line.
Liu Jie Xu
Hi I'm Jie Xu! I am in charge of the mechanical design of the Soccer Lightweight robots.