Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sparkfun AVC 2011: It's Official!

This morning, Sparkfun announced the 2011 Autonomous Vehicle Competition!

April 23, 2011 from 8:30am - 5:00pm. Races start at 9:30am sharp.

With shaking fingers, I registered on my smartphone in the middle of the airport, minutes after the announcement was posted... making me almost certainly the first person to sign up :)

The clock is ticking. Just 3 months to finish a robot car that can navigate around a building fraught with GPS-obscuring urban canyons and car-destroying stealth curbs... while also dodging obstacles along the way.

That's right. the on-land robotics folks (like yours truly) have some new challenges in the form of barrels added to the path.  There's also a new time bonus of -30 seconds for driving through a 3' arch placed somewhere along the path.

EDIT (1/19/11): Did I miss something? Why yes I did... simultaneous starts in the land category. Five robots run each heat at the same a time. Translation: moving, unpredicatble obstacles! Whee!

All this sounds hard.  Maybe I should build a robot plane instead?

In related news, all the major components for the robot are now in my lab ready to be interfaced.

Moments before I left for the airport, my most recent Sparkfun order arrived, containing a GPS module, sonar range finder, serial LCD, and a couple other fun things.

I've been blessed with good fortune lately. Thanks, Sparkfun, for putting on Free Day, wherein I was able to answer enough questions to subsidize the purchase of some of the above.

Also, thanks to RobotBox for generously awarding me a Trossen Robotics gift certificate for "most active member of the month." My order arrived last week with a long range Sharp IR range finder and a couple other things.

So, I have lots to do when I get back to town.

Can I pull it off?  I don't know. Stick around and we'll both find out.

No doubt it'll be entertaining to watch me once again thrash and panic my way to competition day.

I'll keep you updated on my progress right here!

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