The Competition Begins

We packed on Thursday afternoon and evening June 6, and drove to the competition on Friday the 7th.

Our initial efforts beyond the initial unpacking and registration were focused on final preparation for the design competition.  We were scheduled for a 5:30 PM slot and we pushed the disabled Husky and the reborn Cerberus vehicles (Revenant (1) and (2)) into the the design tents.

MJP 0228

Students hard at work as soon as we unpacked

MJP 0245

Our work set up later that Friday night

Friday -- Presentation Day!

We did several dry runs but were nervous nonetheless...


The presentation begins

Leonardo (left), Chris, and Gizelle presented the slides


Note the two vehicles...

Husky Mast can be seen on the right


Tag-team presentation

Gizelle discusses our design process


Leonardo discusses the ROS software architecture


Robot Inspection

Chris opens up Revenant (2) while Revenant (1) sits on the right


Some preliminary field testing

Our first Night (Friday)

We had a lot of work to do and high hopes for success.  Students worked in the tents and out in the field -- you don't need light for GPS navigation and LIDAR-based obstacle avoidance!


Working on local navigation using barrels

Joe doing back stretches behind the robot...


At deep dusk without a flash or tripod

Professor Mohammad and Gizelle working on localization calibration


Evaluating our digital compass calibration after midnight

Students tried to get directional consensus from an iPad and three iPhones


None of the phones agree!

Great News!  On Saturday -- we were informed that our team had made it into the design competition finals and that we would be providing a second presentation on Sunday!

From this point on, our students worked pretty much all day and night for the remainder of the competition.   

On Saturday we spent all of our time working on final code integration and calibration issues.  Clearpath picked up the Husky vehicle for re-fit so we had to re-plan our second presentation (scheduled for Sunday) a bit since we would not have both vehicles to show.

Sunday -- and the driving competitions begin

On Sunday we had the entire vehicle operational and proceeded to undertake qualificatioin and JAUS competition events while spending as much time on the practice course as possible.   Work went on through the night and we were hopeful we would be able resolve some vehicle control dynamics problems before our final runs on Monday.  Our first JAUS run went very well putting us in 3rd place (we had lost a few points because we did not publish our final heading).  

We ran two more great JAUS runs putting us in first place for a while and finally leaving us in 2nd place (out of about 35 teams) as Hosei University posted one final amazing run edging us out.  

We had our second Design presentation on Sunday and it went pretty well though we did not have the benefit of showing the judges both of the vehicles we worked on.  We  judged that it made a lot of sense to send the Husky back with Clearpath Robotics on Saturday since they were at the IGVC and added a series of pictures to our slide presentation to fill in the gaps.  

Overall we took 6th place out of about 35 teams competing so we were quite pleased!

It began to rain at around 9 PM and continued quite heavily over night which turned the tent into a swamp!


Monday brought all day rain.  It was more difficult to do testing in the rain although Joe made a great rain coat for the robot.  We spent a lot of time on the practice course but started to have software versioning problems and module integration errors.  Working through the nights was taking a toll, and we were not ultimately able to perform well on the Basic course but did very well in the JAUS and Design events.

In the end we had a great overall competition.  We set some very ambitious goals in terms of software design and new vehicle configuration, and we overcame some serious obstacles.  

At this point we are poised for a strong performance in 2014 since we have much more experience with ROS (though we will have few returning students), and we will be returning with the same Revenant (2) chassis.  Students should be able to concentrate on algorithm design and innovation and have much more testing time to work out bugs.


Back at it early Monday morning


Design presentation 2 -- the finals


A large group of judges and spectators


Joe explains Smoothed Nearness Diagram navigation


Design pres. 2


Design Pres


Our second vehicle presentation and inspection


A dreary day for driving


We brought rain coats and tents...


All day it rained making testing difficult

Revenant has a rain suit!


We carried the rain tent around the practice course


Revenant sprouts and umbrella


practice course blues


A view of the basic course


IGVC surrealism


Collecting for warmth


Visitors from home

Associate Dean Das (left) and Dean Kulek (right) visited on Monday to cheer us on!


Packing for home has commenced


The tent became a swap

Sunday night it rained very heavily.  Monday continued with on and off rain making for messy packing


No one had boots...


Tent sweet tent


We all pitch in!


A little stress relief on Monday evening

Tristan playing some pickup soccer


Professor Mohammad take the game seriously!


JAUS Competition 2nd Place Award


Design Competiton 6th Place Award

Thank you for reading through this year's competition blog.  Look for us again next year! 

©Electrical, Computer, Robotics, and Mechatronic Systems Engineering -- UDMercy