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On October 30, 2018, I ventured down to Washington, D.C. to attend the Google Cloud Summit with my fellow Leverege coworkers, Yitaek Hwang and Sameer Srivastava. The Google Cloud Summit is a day-long event for developers, customers, and partners to explore new ideas and learn from industry experts.

One of the highlights from this event was the Cloud Derby: a full-day coding competition in which small teams build self-driving (autonomous) robots and compete against each other. Similar to the Hour of Code and Minecraft workshops by Code.org, the Cloud Derby is primarily an educational tool. It offers participants a hands-on “Hello World” experience in robotics, machine learning, and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

An image of the Cloud Derby welcome mat
Image Credit: Leverege

The goal for each robot is to locate and retrieve balls of a specific color from a level playing field as quickly as possible by relying on image data from a small camera module. The images are sent to the cloud, where they are translated into precise movement instructions and relayed back to the robot.

An image of the Leverege robot playing in the testing arena
Image Credit: Leverege

Over the course of six hours, we worked through the instructions provided, with support from Google engineers, to set up IoT Core, Pub/Sub, TensorFlow, and other GCP services and learned about how each of these services plays a role in the system as a whole.

A diagram of the GCP-powered robot tech stack
Image Credit: cloudderby.io

By the end of the session, we had a working robot that could be either controlled manually through a web interface or left to rely on a mounted camera to locate and retrieve colored balls in self-driving mode. As an educational tool, this session/workshop is an excellent way to demonstrate how robotics and machine learning can be used in conjunction to automate basic tasks through IoT. For students and tech professionals looking to expand on knowledge and experience with interfacing sensors and the cloud, this is a great, beginner-friendly starting point.

To follow the latest Cloud Derby news or build your own robot, visit cloudderby.io for more information.  


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Eric Zhang

Eric is a systems engineer at Leverege who enjoys experimenting with all sorts of development hardware for fun projects. As a former teaching assistant, workshop coordinator, and Microsoft Student Partner, he is constantly searching for better ways to deliver educational tech content to the masses.

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