conference

I already talked about it here and there, but this day finally came: the whole company is in Japan !
Kimberly travelled first, to account for jetlag, meet with some people, and attend ROScon.

It was last week, and she got the opportunity to learn a lot, meet people from the ROS community, and give an exciting talk.

Kimberly’s talk at RosCon (made by Ramón Roche)
Happy to be in Japan (Made by Ramón Roche)

The rest of the company travelled last week with all the equipment needed divided into our suitcases.

Our suitcases at the office, to gather the materials before going

We chose to rent a traditional machiya while there, where we can all stay together and enjoy the life in the center of Kyoto.

Us chilling out in the Bitcraze mansion

Our first day here was to account for jetlag, but we managed to sightsee the amazing sites of Kyoto – and enjoy the most praised Japanese food, much appreciated after a long walk among the Tori gates of the Fushimi Inari shrine.

Us after climbing on top of Mt Inari – with the beautiful path of Tori gates

But it was soon time to start working, and yesterday we worked really hard on setting up everything to have a nice demo at IROS.

After some head scratching, emergency taping and hacking we managed to get the autonomous demo that Marios implemented last summer flying – just before the event hall We got time to explore the Kyoto International Conference Center, a beautiful venue with a Japanese garden and a futuristic look – as imagined in the 70′.

Some views from the Kyoto Conference Center

We invited those of you that are attending IROS to come and see us for a tech meet-up. It’s today and it would be a real nice opportunity for us to finally chat in person with our users ! Since there are a lot of aerial systems talks, we realize it may be difficult to come during the sessions, so the tech meet-up can begin during the break, at 15.40

Next up this week is the safe nanocopter competition. Kimberly will actually deliver the prize for that, we can’t wait to see what this competition will show – and how fun it is to remote-control the Crazyflies that are in the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies!

Of course, we will share some news on social media – and we will have a blogpost in a few weeks to debrief on the whole trip.

As you’ll understand, maintaining the day-to-day of the company is a little trickier this week, but we still monitor email, github discussions, and are shipping orders. You should just expect a longer time to process those, as we’re too busy – either at the booth or… at karaoke ! (no, there will be no videos of us singing).

This fall is full of exciting events for us, and none are more excitedly expected than our visit to Japan. Yes, the whole company (6 people) are travelling to Kyoto for at least a week – but not for sightseeing (well, not only). Here is what we have planned:

ROSCon

As per tradition, ROSCon is held shortly before IROS. So, on the 19 to 21 October, Kimberly will be here to represent us along the ROS community. She will even have a presentation about the latest ROS2 integrations in collaboration with the maintainers of Crazyswarm2. It’s on October 21st, 16.50 local time so if you’re there make sure to hear her talk !

IROS

From the 21st to the 27th of October, IROS will be held at the Kyoto International Conference Center. it’s one of largest robotics conference worldwide, with almost 1750 papers presented. As the first in-person session of the conference since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, we had to be there. We will man the booth during the whole conference, with the demo our intern Marios has worked on a lot. And since it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to gather and talk together, we thought it would be great to have an official meetup at IROS for those interested.

So, please note this official invitation to Bitcraze’s tech meetup at IROS! If you’re at IROS and want to meet us together with other Crazyflie users, then let’s get together on Monday 24th of October at 16.00 at our booth 59. It’s the perfect occasion to (re)connect, to get the latest news about Bitcraze, to talk about development, share what you’ve been doing and even possibly hack together! Be sure to say hi if you’re there. We will try to make it something similar to a Swedish fika, with some sweets and coffee, but we can’t promise that there will be kanelbullar.

IROS Safe Robot Learning Competition

And this year, we’re happy to announce that there will be a Crazyflie competition during IROS. The goal is to develop safe learning-based algorithms that can cope with uncertainties not known at design time. Our friends at Dynamic Systems Lab are organizing this competition with two simulated phase, and one experimental phase at IROS… And the experiment is a remote access to the Flight Arena at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies in Toronto, Canada via high-speed internet connections. You don’t need to be present at IROS to participate, but if you wish to do so, beware, the registration for the competition ends on October 12th. We’re really curious and excited to see what this competition is going to show!

What about Bitcraze during that week?

But, if everybody is in Japan, what about Bitcraze’s regular activities ? You may be wondering. Well, no worries. Even though we’re going to be half a world away, the business is going to follow us. Of course, some of us are going to take that opportunity to take some vacations and visit this beautiful country, so during IROS’ week and the week after, the company will run a little bit more slowly than usual. We won’t be as reactive as usual on emails and discussions, but we will still monitor our emails and ship some orders.

Are you planning to visit IROS or ROSCon ? Is there anything in particular in the schedule that you don’t want to miss ? Don’t hesitate to tell us if you want to join the meetup !

We’re now in the middle of summer, and even though we’re not affected by the heat much here in Sweden, we’re still in a slower pace as usual, since a lot of us are not at the office. Sales, packing, support and general maintenance takes up a lot of our time for those that are left at the office. We also usually take the summer time to clear out lingering issues and focus on some projects that we can tackle alone.

This summer though will be mostly used for preparation of a very busy autumn. As the Covid situation seems to normalize around the world, conferences onsite are restarting, and we plan to take advantage of this ! Here is what is planned:

IMAV – Delft, 12 to 16 September.

The 13th edition of the International Micro Air Vehicle Conference will be held in Delft, in the Netherlands. We’ve been collaborating for a long time with the MAVLab in Delft, so we’re really happy to be one of the sponsors for this conference. For the occasion, there is a nano AI competition that we’re really excited to see. With the AI bundle, the goal is to fly as fast as possible through an obstacle course.

We’ve been working a lot with the AI deck this past year, so this competition is the perfect occasion for us to see it in action. Kimberly has also developed a simulator that will be used for this competition.

ROSCon – Kyoto, 19 to 21 october

ROSCon is a conference dedicated to the entire ROS community, traditionally held right before IROS. Kimberly will be our proud represent there, as she will have a talk about ROS2 and the Crazyflie. For the occasion, she will showcase the latest ROS2 integrations in collaboration with the maintainers of Crazyswarm2.

Last time a Crazyflie was present at ROSCon was in 2015, where Wolfgang Hönig had a lightning talk. A lot has changed since that time, and we’re hoping to increase the presence of (tiny) aerial vehicles within the ROS community, especially nanocopters like the Crazyflie.

IROS – Kyoto, 23 to 27 october

IROS is one of the largest robotics conferences worldwide, and after an online edition last year, this 35th instance promises to be full of exciting things!

As it’s quite huge, and for a quite delayed 10th Bitcraze’s anniversary, the whole company plans to get to this conference. Not only for the chance to discover Japan, that most of us haven’t visited, but also because it feels important to have a significant presence in this conference, which promises a lot of opportunities. That would mean a week without anyone at the Swedish office, but you know where to find us if you would like to talk to us ;).

For the occasion, our intern Marios is working on revamping the autonomous swarm demo. Because of the pandemic, it’s been a while since we actually used it for a whole day of flying, and he’s actively working on making it completely autonomous by implementing the peer to peer protocol.

Logistics

As you can see, those exciting 3 conferences almost back-to-back promise a busy autumn here at Bitcraze. There’s a lot to prepare ahead of time, like marketing materials, demo setups, visas problems and hotel bookings. And there will be a lot to talk about, during and after. The pandemics have delayed a lot of our in-person meetings, and it will feel really good to finally get to meet up in the real world with users – old and new. If you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate to come by our booths on those conferences and say hello in person!

Since the pandemic, having a close relationship with our contributors, partners, distributors and generally speaking, users, have been a challenge. We tried to keep in touch as much as possible, by organizing our own conference, visiting labs in Europe, or asking for feedback.

Now that it seems the situation has gone back to almost normal (and I’m crossing all my fingers as I’m writing that, which makes typing difficult), we have exciting plans for the coming months for getting closer to the community. Here are some of the things we are cooking up:

Mini BAM

The closest one is actually next week ! We are hosting a short webinar where 2 of our close collaborators will present what they’ve been working on. Matěj Karásek from Flapper Drones will talk to us about his Bolt-based drone, that is set up with flapping wings. We got to try it out in our lab last week, and it looked amazing: we’re excited you’re getting a look too!

Matej will be followed by Gábor Vásárhelyi from Collmot that will introduce us to Skybrush, its platform for any kind of swarm/fleet/multi-UAV mission control.

We’re really grateful that Flapper Drones and Collmot will join us for our very first Mini Bam to talk about drones in show! Here are the details:

It starts at 15.00 CEST on May 18th.

If you’re interested in joining, please fill out this form, or contact us at contact@bitcraze.io.
You’ll get an invitation to join the webinar.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfTGN3nHO_7fahSNbZPYJEkH8jgrRrhQV2ky4Q6OS9GLPeHNw/viewform

IROS 2022

After 2 years of online or hybrid conferences, we’re really excited to join the next one. And it’s a big one: IROS 2022, which will be held 23-27 october in Kyoto, Japan. We’re actually so excited about it that the whole company should be joining, if logistics and Corona let us. The situation in Japan is still uncertain, the country being still closed for tourism, but we are optimistic and hope for a week full of conference, meeting new people, and of course discovering a beautiful city all together. We’re planning on having a booth there, so if you plan also on visiting IROS, be sure to pass by and say hello !

We’re hiring

Of course, all of those plans take time… And we’re a little bit short on that, since (as I maybe mentioned before) we’re a little short handed right now. With only 6 people at Bitcraze, we’re getting frustrated: we have many projects, and too little time to work on them ! That’s why we have begun actively looking for a new Bitcrazer to add to our ranks. A job offer should be posted soon on our page: if you’re interested, keep an eye out for this, and be sure to let us know if you fill the profile (or someone who does!). We know it will be a long process to find the right fit for us, but we’re hopefully we will discover the person that will help us achieving all those plans – and even more!

The last week was epic. We had 3 days of our online conference, the BAM days – I’m sure you’ve heard of them by now.

We are really happy with how everything went down. During those 3 days, 142 people attended, which is a highest number than we could have expected. The Welkom platform we used was stellar, allowing us to use Mibo rooms for very fruitful discussions after each talk.

Quiz and community Q&A

We took the opportunity to talk to our community, which is something we didn’t have the opportunity to do in a long time. Your insights and feedback were greatly appreciated and we have a lot to think about in the next coming weeks on how to best use all the remarks we got.

We also had a short quiz about Bitcraze, and we were quite impressed with how you performed ! And interesting to note that the hardest question for you was how many decks we sell (it’s 16, if you want to cheat on our hypothetical next quiz)

As I’ve mentioned, after each event we gathered in Mibo rooms. Even though attendance there was not as high as we would have liked, we still got quality time with community members, speakers, collaborators, even first-timers that were interested in the Crazyflie. We really love this platform, making us feel almost like meeting in real life. We even had some karaoke in Mibo during the closing party (which MAY be a good excuse to end the day for those who listened)

Content

Our external speakers presented a lot of interesting work. It was a great pleasure and honor to welcome every one of them as they explained their latest work. I have to admit that it’s rewarding to see such smart people doing awesome and cool research with our products.

We did our share too, with workshops and demos. Kristoffer’s autonomous demo using distributed consensus required a lot of work but worked perfectly in the end. Here is a small excerpt:

What now?

Now, we’re feeling as everyone is feeling the day after a party: exhausted, happy, and wondering what to do next. Hopefully we have some plans for that !

If you missed the conference, we created a Youtube playlist where you can watch everything that you missed. During the next few days, we’ll update the event page with BAM’s presentations too so you will have the opportunity to catch up. Some of our workshops will also turn into tutorials or documentations of some kind, but we’re still just cleaning up.

We are so happy with how everything went that we are already thinking about a future BAM. This one was exceptional, of course, since it was at first to celebrate our 10 year anniversary (and I have to admit that we’re all a little bit tired after 3 intense days), so we’re not going to be able to top that. But we are considering making BAM a fixed point in our agenda (and yours, let’s hope). We don’t how, we don’t know when, but one thing is sure: BAM is just beginning.

Kimberly on a different continent

On a totally different note, Kimberly is flying to the US this week: if any of you America-based wants to grab the occasion to have a more time-zone appropriate conversation with one of us, you will have a few weeks to make it possible!

The BAM days are coming up !


Only 8 days left before the first Bitcraze-organized conference ever. We are really excited about it, and this coming week is pretty much dedicated to organize the conference. We’re working hard on getting the best experience possible for there 3 days, both for us and for you. That means collaborating with great speakers, creating awesome workshops, but also think about the best way to come together – one of the main purpose behind the BAM days.

It’s been a couple of months since we decided that we wanted to organize our own conference. The main idea behind it was that we missed going to conferences, meeting people and talking with a lot of interesting persons.

Expression of the BAMdays

Bitcraze turning 10 felt like a big occasion that we wanted to celebrate. And indeed we did, internally, but we wanted to share this accomplishment with you too. An online conference seemed like the best idea. So when time came to choose a platform for it, we looked for something which put emphasis on social experience. We finally went with the Welkom platform, from the Netherlands. It’s easy and natural to use, with a simple interface, and lots of options for us to organize different activities.

The event platform

The Welkom platform we’ll use hosts two different Mibo rooms. It’s a spatial chat, where your avatar can run around a 3D world, discovering different environments. Your camera is your head, so you’ll need a webcam to join. There are some fun activities around, plenty interactive stuff, from chairs to basketballs. We have used it to for our coffee breaks when we were working from home, and had fun using this world: we’ll be happy to meet you there and hope you’ll find it fun too.

Bitcraze goofing around in Mibo

The plan is to have between each talk or workshop at least 30 minutes in Mibo to talk to the speakers, take a coffee break, discuss the exciting things that’s been happening, and generally catch up in ways we haven’t be able to the past year.

At the end of each day, we’ve programmed social events to gather together. On Tuesday, we’ll host a special quizz. Telling you its content may be a bit cheating, but if we’ve read our blogposts regularly, the questions should not seem hard to you. For the winner, a once-in-a-lifetime reward: a GoldenFlie ! You will be able to put it in your chimney mantle with your others awards, or actually use it – because, yes, it flies!

The GoldenFlie!

The second day, Wednesday, we’ll have a roundtable with Q&A. A perfect occasion for us to get feedback from you, and for you to ask us all the questions you have been burning to ask us.

The last day (Thursday), we’ll talk a little about Bitcraze and its future: where it is headed. We’ll then have a last party – in Mibo of course.

All the program and other useful information is in our event page. We really hope you’ll take some time to come by and say hello !