Wednesday Afternoon

Fontana, CA – At 1:45 we had to gather in front of the main grandstands for a group picture of all of the teams. It was a long morning waiting for the announcement so we all went off-site to eat. Most days our chase team has been bringing in food for us at the track. (Good stuff I might add.) But we needed to get away to get our minds off of things.Everyone was nervous as we took the pictures. Then Dr. Tether welcomed everyone and complimented everyone’s performance. He made the same statements that everyone who is familiar with last year’s event had been making: the amount of improvement is spectacular and everyone is taking notice.

Then he said that, unfortunately, he would only be able to take 20 entries to the final. As I said in my last note I had expected more than 20 to be chosen. He was very convincing and I was not feeling very good as he read out the 20 team names. As I expected we were not one of the 20. Then the guy who was in charge of the Grand Challenge event itself spoke up and said that they could take 3 more teams. This was obviously pre-arranged to add to the drama. It worked. Cajunbot was the first of the additional three teams called out. We all cheered and hollered. Quite a moment.

Joshua yelled out “That wasn’t funny” at the top of his lungs.

To be fair, Dr. Tether said that the names he called out were in no particular order. So we don’t know if we were in the top 20 or not. Matters not now, we are going to the final!

He announced the top 3 teams and they were Stanford and the two CMU teams. Incredibly the Stanford team had 4 absolutely clean runs but were ranked second. I still can’t believe the emphasis that speed is being given over accuracy and precision. Given the purpose of this project, I would much rather my autonomous shipment of supplies actually get to where it is going rather than run into an obstacle somewhere, even if it takes a few more minutes to get there. But that’s just me.

So tonight we are relaxing. Some of the guys found a racetrack near here where you can race mini race cars. Others are just hanging around the hotel. I am sure there will be a team meal this evening.

Tomorrow morning Arun and Scott have a team leader’s meeting at 8 and we will probably depart the speedway at about 9 or so. We will check in to Buffalo Bill’s in Primm. On Friday there will be some test runs given to the finalists. We will find out details about that tomorrow morning. Only thing left after that is the final.

We know we can’t win on speed so we are going for the “pass the most vehicles” prize. Who knows, the tortoise might beat all the hares again!

– Patrick Landry

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.