Wednesday Morning

Fontana, CA – We had our 6th run yesterday just after lunch. I think there were 7 teams asked to run. The bot was stopped by a car obstacle about 150 yards from the finish. It ran really well. The only obstacle after that was the tank trap. Quite dissappointing.

We are still having problems with the bot seeing “false obstacles” in its path, especially when it is bouncing a lot. For some reason we are also having difficulty seeing the last two cars on the NQE track. We detected them very late and narrowly avoided missing them on our two complete runs.

Sunset at the Speedway

Team Jefferson crash

So there is a group picture scheduled this morning at 11 and then the press coference at 2pm where they will announce the finalists.

I feel pretty confident that we will in the final. I would be a lot more confident had we finished that last run. If they allow only 20 teams into the final then we may not make it. That would be due to our missed run from the transmission problem and the last run that we did not finish. I think there are 20 teams with 3 complete runs and that would pretty much rule us out. But DARPA has allowed more than the announced minimum number at every stage of this process so far so I think that there will be more than 20 finalists.

We hear that the first part of the Grand Challenge course this year is easier than last. I assume DARPA would like to have some bots go a long distance this year.

The press last year was not so good for them. With the level of competition I have seen here so far I am confident that some vehicles will go very far this year. If we get in I think we will go a long ways.

I am still not so sure that anyone will finish. DARPA will certainly put some challenging portions on the track. And it only takes one mistake to stop one of these vehicles. But I must admit that the top 5 or so bots here this year are incredibly impressive.

It is very difficult to determine what DARPA is using as criteria for judging the bots. We don’t know if DARPA will rank a team higher if it completes the course qickly yet misses a few gates or contacts an obstacle, or if they will rank a team higher who make a clean run but gets caught up on ab obstacle 150 yards from the finish.

We have made two complete runs, both of which were pretty clean. We have replaced chains and a transmission in our vehicle. I am very satisfied with our effort. Now it is just up to the judges. I am sure you will be able to get the news fro or when the announcement is made but I will try to get connected this afternoon for another post before we start tearing things down.

One last thing. There was a pretty impressive crash Monday after our first run. Team Jefferson came out of the tunnel and had apparently lost GPS signal. They turned left about 45 degrees and then sped across the track at waht looked like full throttle directly into one of the K barriers. There were people lined up against the barrier but the were all able to get out of the way. The vehicle’s impact on the barrier moved it about 4 feet.

– Patrick Landry

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