AIRLab Stacking Challenge: robotics competition for retail use cases

PAL Robotics at AIRLab Stacking Challenge

Robotics in retail has multiple aims, one of which is to help free up workers from tasks that are dull and monotonous, to be able to focus more on customer interaction. Retail applications also include the chance to capture data about the products on the shelves and customer buying patterns. In order to drive the field of robotics research for retail forward, The AIRLab Delft is organizing the brand new AIRLab Stacking Challenge, together with PAL Robotics. The AIRLab Delft is the joint industry lab of Ahold Delhaize and the TU Delft, delivering innovations at the intersection of retail, AI, and robotics. The robotics competition is aimed at research teams working in robotics and is specifically focused on smart retail applications, and includes a cash prize. Students, research teams, and professionals in the field, from all over the world are invited to join.

The focus of the challenge is to share knowledge and deep dive into the tech to better understand the ground principles of robotics. In the AIRLab Stacking challenge, teams will work on algorithms that focus on smart retail applications, for example, automated product stacking. Algorithms will be coded using a simulation that can later be deployed using the TIAGo robot developed by PAL Robotics. Students, researchers, professors, and professionals in the field of robotic automation are invited to participate in this challenge. Teams of 2-6 people can enroll.

  • The programming assignments will be doable in a time span of 4 weeks.
  • The deadline for applications is 17 September 2021
  • The assignment deadline is 23 October with finals day on 18 November 2021
  • PAL Robotics will be available for technical support during the challenge
  • See the competition website for details on how to participate:

Robotics competitions enable students to learn and develop 21st-century skills efficiently and under the pressure and excitement of a competition environment. Various skills such as problem-solving, time management, teamwork, self-directed learning, and many more are easily learned through these experiences. From an industry perspective, competitions drive innovation and continue to help drive new developments that bring further advancements and new use cases to robotics. 

TIAGo mobile manipulator, a modular robot used in robotics competitions worldwide 

In the AIRLab Stacking Challenge, algorithms are being developed for PAL Robotics’ TIAGo robot. TIAGo, the mobile manipulator, has taken part in live robotics competitions, competitions in simulation, and some of the biggest competitions in robotics in recent years. This includes RoboCup, the Mobile Manipulation Hackathon, SciRoc, and this year’s Roboethics Competition at the Humanoids 2021 event.  Later this year TIAGo will take part in the IROS-RSJ Navigation and Manipulation Challenge, as well as in the AIRLab Stacking Challenge. Read more about this year’s RoboCup@Home Challenge in our previous blog.

The TIAGo platform enables teams to integrate their developments in AI, perception, manipulation, and navigation onto the platform, in simulation, or directly onto the platform. TIAGo also has a set of ROS tutorials publicly available online, to make it easy to test TIAGo in simulation. As well as the onboard sensors and equipment, teams can connect devices to expand the robot’s capabilities even more, from extra microphones to AI devices or extra cameras. Therefore, teams can adjust TIAGo’s skills to their specific needs and goals.

AIRLab Delft: the joint industry lab uniting retail and research

AIRLab is always actively monitoring and researching in the field of robotics to see what the future has to bring and contribute to their mission: Redefine retail through technology. They believe that technology can assist associates in the future, making their daily jobs more enjoyable and sustainable.

The AIRLab Delft is the joint industry lab of Ahold Delhaize and the TU Delft. It recently opened a test site where PhD researchers – supported by RoboValley and tech incubator YES!Delft – can work with partners, students, and startups to build and test prototypes of robotic solutions.

Ahold Delhaize is a Dutch grocery retail company. Its business format includes supermarkets, convenience stores, hypermarkets, online grocery, online non-food, and drugstores. The company serves more than 54 million shoppers each week in the United States, Europe, and Indonesia. Their brands include Food Lion, ENA Food, and Stop&Shop. 

TU Delft is the oldest and largest technical university in the Netherlands. With eight faculties and numerous research institutes, the university has more than 25,000 students and is focussed on science, design, and technology.

YES!Delft is a successful tech incubator in Europe founded in 2005. They believe in the impact tech companies can have and offer services to help turn promising ideas and teams into solid startups and in turn, grow them into successful companies.

To find out more and apply to take part in the AIRLab Stacking Challenge, visit the robotics competition webpage here. To learn more about the TIAGo and TIAGo++ robots and PAL Robotics, visit our website.

To read more about our work, check out our blog on robotics and don’t hesitate to contact us!

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