Category Archives: Blog- Thunderbots FC

Thunderbots Member of the Month: Sarah Holdijk

Happy 2015 T-Botters! To welcome the new year, UBC Thunderbots would like to introduce you to our Thunderbots Member of the Month…

Sarah Holdijk


Department: Computer (Software Option) 
Year: 4th
Sub-team: Computer

How long have you been in UBC Thunderbots?
Four Years!

What made you want to join T-Bots?
Soccer is fun, robots are awesome, so there was no way that soccer playing robots wouldn’t be a lot of fun!

What’s your favourite part about being on T-Bots?
I like the people, they’re pretty awesome… that and getting to work on challenging problems, as well as developing my software skills.

What’s your most memorable moment?
There were a lot from our trip to Brazil for Robocup. It was a blast to get to travel with such an awesome group and it was really fun to get to compete and hang out with teams from around the world.

Other than UBC Thunderbots, what other hobbies do you have?
I like to spend as much time as possible outside. I love running, hiking and biking.

Thunderbots Member of the Month: Dean Kalla

Hello everyone, UBC Thunderbots is pleased to announce our newest Thunderbots Member of the Month…

Dean Kalla

Member of the Month - Dean Kalla

Department: Electrical
Year: 3rd
Sub-team: Electrical

How long have you been in UBC Thunderbots?
Too long… Just kidding, I’ve been on the team for about a year and a half.

What made you want to join T-Bots?
Robots are cool.

What’s your favourite part about being on T-Bots?
I really enjoy all the competitions and competing with other teams all over the world. It’s fun and I don’t mind working under pressure.

What’s your most memorable moment?
I think the trip to Cyprus last year was quite memorable. I got to meet a lot of cool people and we placed Second overall in the competition. I did some on-the-spot maintenance during the competition too!

Other than UBC Thunderbots, what other hobbies do you have?
I have a lot of DIY projects that I like to work on. I’m currently working on a sustainability project. Other than that, I like to go fishing.

Week 1 2014W – Imagine Day, Lunch & Learn, and a New School Year!

UBC Thunderbots welcomes you back to another year at UBC, and for those that are joining us for the first time, welcome! Things were off to a rough start this year with some severe rainfall on Imagine Day – it’s like the weather knows it needs to get back to work and rain on us.


2014 UBC Imagine Day – More like Rain-magine Day.
September 2, 2014

In spite of the heavy rain that got out of control sometime mid-afternoon, we found ourselves a tent and continued to showcase our robots even though rain and our robots don’t really get along with each other.  Thankfully our tent was large enough to run a live demo safely, though our team members suffered and stood in the rain as they tried their best explaining what we do to curious students. Their hard work paid off as our demo generated a lot of interest from freshmen and senior students alike, piquing the interest of over 125 students in our robots. Thank you to everyone that stopped by to speak with us, it is nice to know that rain mishaps won’t stop students’ plans to learn more about clubs.


EDTC Lunch & Learn – BBQ, First Years, & Robot Shenanigans
September 3, 2014

The EDTC Lunch & Learn was an event exposed curious 1st year Applied Sciences students to various engineering design student teams at UBC and give them an idea on how they can apply their skills to an ongoing student team project. Hosted right at our home base in the Engineering Design Center, we had our robots running around freely literally on its home turf.

Scott running the presentation
Scott running the presentation

Scott Churchley – our Technical Lead – gave a presentation on our robots and how it works while our safety officer Alice Lam ran the demo at full speed. We drew in a sizable crowd throughout the lunch hour as our two seniors engaged in some serious robot shenanigans.

Home base: swag-ified

New Year, New Goals….

There is a lot of work ahead of us as we have ambitious plans for this upcoming year. Seeing the performance of our competitors’ robots at the 2014 RoboCup Competition, the team agrees that a complete design overhaul for our robots will put ourselves in a better position for next year’s competition at Hefei, China. We thought the best way to start our design overhaul is to give our home base some new decor, so up went the swag we collected over the years at previous RoboCup competitions – roadside banners, team jerseys, posters and more! With our swag-ified workspace all ready to go, our members will hopefully find new inspirations for our new fleet of robots!


…and New Member Recruitment!

Our Mechanical, Electrical, and Software team leads are currently looking for dedicated, ambitious individuals to help us succeed in next year’s competition, so if you are interested in joining and haven’t applied, be sure to register here and tell us why you should be recruited. Our first round recruitment ends this upcoming Wednesday, September 8, 2014, so be sure to apply if you are interested.

We’ll also be at BizWeek for Admin Recruitment!
September 11, 2014 11:00 – 14:00

The Admin team will be at BizWeek this upcoming Thursday to recruit new admin team members. They will be looking for candidates that have experience in social media, event management, travel planning, using design tools, and approaching possible sponsors for funding. If you want to be involved in a managerial role with us, be sure to find us outside (or inside if it’s raining) the Henry Angus building this Thursday between 11:00 – 14:00! We’ll have full job descriptions at our booth.


And that’s a wrap folks, check back next week for another weekly update!

Robocup 2014: The videos and some rule changes

What’s this?! Another blog post?! That’s right, we’re still not done blogging! Just like how movies must have sequels (as many until they can get away with), Tbots must have another blog post!

This time, we bring you videos! All 6 of our games are up on our channel on Youtube (that’s 5 official games and 1 friendly game).

Click here to get to our Youtube channel.

You’ll probably notice one strange thing about the games, can you figure it out? Did the bots suddenly get smaller? Guess again… the field is actually much larger! This year, the league decided to double the size of the playing field, with this year being optional and future years being mandatory. This move is mainly motivated by the need to:

1, Keep the games interesting (ball goes out of bounds less often, theoretically)

2. Prevent overcrowding (and bots pushing against each other)

3. Allow for more complex strategies (there’s room to actually move!)

4. More passes can be made successfully

5. Most importantly, it makes the game more like real soccer (where players tend to have a lot of room to move around)

I lied, number 3 is actually the most important one . “Why isn’t it number one then? ” You may ask…I don’t know I just listed these reasons arbitrarily! But back to the  topic, Robocup has a mission statement that states that it wants a team of adult sized humanoid robots to beat the most recent FIFA World Cup champions by the year 2050. Robocup isn’t going to reach that goal with the Small-sized Leagues contribution! So a push make further technical progress with SSL gameplay is sorely needed and doubling field size is a way to promote that (making games more interesting to watch is nice cherry on top as well).

Hopefully, the league will start seeing more interesting plays at future games, Tbots certainly has few ideas.

Robocup 2014: The Games

This year, thousands upon thousands of foreigners descend upon Brazil to witness the greatest sporting event in the world. And no, it’s not the FIFA World Cup with its mundane human soccer players, that’s old news. I’m talking about Robocup 2014 and its hyper-advanced robotic soccer players!

The tower at the venue, most people though this was an airport control tower at a distance

Using the brand new convention center as the competition venue, Tbots began its quest for glory against 21 other teams from around the world. 

Nice, spacious, and colourful

If there’s one similarity between the FIFA World Cup and Robocup, it’s that the tournament progression is the exact same. Tbots plays every team in our round robin group before advancing to a knockout style tournament.

The first day of games ended with a tie with our good friends ER-Force (Germany), and a win against RoboIME (Brazil). Day two ended with a loss against one of the best teams in the league, RoboDragons (Japan) and a win against ACES (Pakistan). This places us third in our round robin group. The third day of the tournament unfortunately started with another loss, this time against Immortals (Iran), another top tier team, knocking us out of the tournament. Tbots finished the day with a friendly game with Tigers Mannheim (Germany) with another tie.

After all that, Tbots managed to take 9th place out of 21 teams! This time with drastically more robust and reliable robots, with no magic smoke, mysterious flashes, and random parts coming from our robots (all of which make robot soccer far more interesting to watch than human soccer)!

Team photo with Immortals

You can check out detailed scoring here

Videos of our non-human soccer-filled adventures will be posted soon…

Robocup 2014: Bon Voyage!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, Thunderbots decided to take a plane instead. Being an engineering team, using a highly engineered vehicle seemed a lot more appropriate to get to Brazil. So appropriate, that we just had to ride on 3 of them, with a total of 20 hours of flying and a 12 hour layover in Sao Paolo.

If you haven’t noticed, if you rearrange the letters of “12 hour layover,” you can spell the word “Adventure!!” Taking public transit into the city, we quickly discovered something extraordinarily odd for a Brazilian city, it was colder than Vancouver! It was also quite cloudy, like Vancouver. And there were mountains nearby, like Vancouver. We speculated that the airplane may have made a giant circle back to Canada and landed in a hidden suburb of Vancouver.


High rises as far as the eye could see



After a final 4 hour flight, Tbots finally arrived at Joao Pessoa at 3am, and after arriving at the hostel for a nice two hour nap, Tbots was ready for the first day of Robocup!

Stay tunes, our next blog will cover the games!


Thunderbots at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire!

Last weekend, Thunderbots rolled into the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire for a solid two days of robot soccer fun with faire-goers of all ages!


Now in its fourth year, the VMFF is, in its own words, “all about experimenting, playing and sharing in order to have fun, learn, and discover new possibilities.” This was our first year attending, and we were blown away by the atmosphere of the faire and the variety and innovation of the exhibits. Others in the UBC contingent included: UBC Rapid, VEX, Human Powered Vehicle Team, and E-Racing.


Those who’ve seen us at public events will recognize our usual fenced-in playing field setup — but, one of the highlights of our faire experience was getting to take our robots outside their (and our) comfort zones and go for a walk all around the faire. We attracted a few curious passers-by and even made some new friends! We’ll be sure to be back next year.

Screenshot (10)Human friends!

vlcsnap-2014-06-09-22h22m27s74Robot friends!

On one of our excursions, we decided to strap a camera onto the ‘bot. And so, to sign off: VMFF, from the robots’ perspective. (If you’re prone to motion sickness, you might want to skip this one.)

Ready for the new school year?


Thunderbots certainly is and we’re starting off the year with our demo at the Main Event! It’s another year full of possibilities, excitement, and robots!

Want to be part of the excitement and build these robots? The good news! We are recruiting new members! You can apply to join here

And don’t forget to like our Facebook page to get a regular dose of Tbots news!

Thunderbotian of the month: Sarah Holdijk

Congratulations to Sarah Holdijk for being one of the Thunderbotians of the month for February!



Sarah has been chosen as this month’s Thunderbotian of the month for her work on the software team. She is currently in 3rd Year Software Engineering, and joined the team in September 2011.


Check out the interview below!


Why did you join the team
Because soccer playing robots are awesome! I also wanted to get involved with a student design team because they are a great way to gain practical experience and meet lots of cool people with similar interests.


What to you enjoy most about Thunderbots
The robots, they are so neat. I also love the little challenges I get to solve while working with the Thunderbots


Something interesting/special about you
I can’t whistle or snap my fingers to save my life.


Your project
Currently working on the higher level STP portion of the AI. At this particular moment we are in the process of designing a new tactic that will hopefully add something to our offensive arsenal.


Congratulations again Sarah! Stay tuned for another Thunderbotian feature soon!

Thunderbots at CS GIRLSmarts

Happy February and 2013!



On January 26th, UBC Computer Science held the GIRLsmarts camp for elementary school girls to explore and learn about computer science. They had hands-on activities, souvenirs to bring home,  and best of all, a THUNDERBOTS DEMO!




The girls had fun controlling and playing soccer with the the robots, and were inspired by our team members.

Keep your eyes peeled for our TBits newsletter coming out during Reading Week!