November 2, 2007 (0730hrs), VICTORVILLE, CA. In keeping with the tradition established in the first Grand Challenge, the Majors family arrived yesterday for the Cajun Cookout. The entourage is led by Brother Ray Majors, the person who gave this project the first break. He gave us the 6-wheeled ATV that got us rolling. He is joined with his brother John Majors who, through his company Quality Transport, Inc, has been kindly supporting us by providing vehicles and trailers to haul the bots back and forth from California. Mark Majors, of MedExpress Ambulance Service, another sponsor, and his youngest son close the pack along with Danny Majors, who is part of our team.In the backdrop of the several ‘Did Not Qualifiers’ (DNQs) that have packed and left, the Majors family continuing the cookout is an anathema. But it further reinforces the Cajun spirit already very well known in the DARPA circle. We play hard, lick our wounds, and enjoy life nonetheless.
The veterans of the challenges, which includes DARPA officials, media, and other team members, look forward to the event. We were asked at checkin whether we were having a cookout. The same question was popped up by many when it was announced Team CajunBot DNQed.
The Majors woke up early and took off shopping. They plan to serve about 200 people. That calls for buying and cutting a load of onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and sausages. While all of these ingredients will be bought locally, they have carried with them twenty (correction) pounds of Louisiana crawfish tails. In keeping with the tradition the crawfish has been sponsored by Andre Leger of Chez Francois.
The Majors will spend the next four hours cutting all the ingredients and cooking. They will cook right at our hospitality tent. Cooking with open fire outside in the hubub of activity is a very big deal. Its a big deal when you know that millions were displaced a few weeks ago by forest fires. This area is a tinder box. One spark could get the whole place aflame. But, in keeping with another tradition, DARPA went out of their way to get permit for the open fire cooking. The fire marshall is invited.
We started cranking again. Today we will work on getting CajunBot opertional again. The hit has misaligned her sensors. After realigning the sensors, we plan to do some test runs, and then bring her offroad (where a Jeep really belongs). Our goal is to collect data for conditions we cannot find in Louisiana.
– Arun Lakhotia