jump to navigation

Race Day 04/16/2009

Posted by aliasmrjones in The Build.

Race day finally arrived.  To be honest, I had been spending so much time on the car, I was happy that spending every spare minute on the build was finally over.  The ir sensors that we added in the last post were working well for avoiding obstacles and curbs so it looked like we had a really good shot to at least complete the course.  It was a really fun day.  Click “More…” for lots of pics of the vehicles and some video of our runs.

Deathpod3000 at the finish line

Deathpod3000 at the finish line

There were 20 teams – 17 rovers and 3 planes.  The rovers were going first and the planes last.  Each team got 3 tries with the fastest time winning.  There was a pit area inside for prepping the vehicles.  Here is a pic of us getting ready in the pits.

In the pits

In the pits

Unfortunately, we didn’t get video of the first run, but here is a video of our practice run.  The real run was very similar.

I decided to try to just make it around the first try.  I set the program to go 30% throttle all the way.  30% is somewhere between a walk and a jog.  There was immediate drama in trial 1.  It headed too far to the right because of gps error and it started following the curb in the wrong direction.  There were gasps from the crowd.  But, after about 3 or 4 feet, it turned around and headed down the course.  The crowd cheered!  It had to steer to follow along the curb by the pond, again because of gps error, but it  made all the way around and crossed the finish line without any other problems.  Our time was just over 2 minutes.

Here are a few pics of some of the other vehicles.


Most of round 1 ended up like this:


The big “tank” decided to go off-roading:


One of the planes ended up in a tree and the fire department had to come get the plane down.

Plane stuck in a tree

Plane stuck in a tree

Through round 1 we were the only vehicle to successfully make it around the course.  Round 2 started and it was going pretty much like round 1.  I decided to crank up the speed to 50% throttle, which is basically like a medium run.  It cuts the speed down as it approaches a waypoint or if it detect an obstacle.

Here we are at the start line for trial 2:


We shot video of the second run, but because we had to run to keep up, it is really shaky.  Here is video of the beginning.  You can see the start, the first turn and you can see it avoiding the curb.

The drama in run 2 came at the pond.  The car headed straight at the pond at full speed.  Because it was going faster, it came within 3 inches of smashing into the curb before it detected the curb, cut the wheels hard left, did a 180 spin and stopped.  Then it started up again headed down the course.


It  completed the course and shaved 30 seconds off our first run at 1 minute 28 seconds.

Deathpod3000 crossing the finish line

Deathpod3000 crossing the finish line

The editor in chief of Make magazine came out for the event and he interviewed us after round 2.

Interviewed by Make magazine

Through round 2 we were still the only vehicle to complete the course.  In round 3 we upped the speed to 70% throttle and unfortunately that was too fast.  It couldn’t turn in time after detecting the curb and we smashed head-first.

The final run of the final vehicle – an airplane – was the only other successful run.  They had a time of 39 seconds, much faster than our 1:28 and they took first place.  Here is a pic of the winning team.


We got 2nd place and also won the Engineer’s Choice award, voted on by Sparkfun’s engineers.


The whole day was a blast.  Thanks to Sparkfun for sponsoring such a fun competition.  They are planning to make this an annual event so get planning for next year.  I’m sure they’ll make some changes to make it even better.  (Hopefully put air and ground vehicles in separate divisions…)

If you’ve enjoyed reading the blog, please leave a comment.  Right now I need a few days to recover!



1. esemartee - 04/16/2009

hey, congrats! i spoke to you briefly at the event about your GPS woes. very cool to see how this all came together.

2. mane man - 04/17/2009

Really stable video compared to standard Goo Tube quality.

3. SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition « Sam Pan’s Blog - 04/17/2009
4. Jim Egan - 04/17/2009

Way to go Eric!!! Congratulations on getting 2nd place!

5. Gary Mortimer - 04/19/2009

Well done, looked like a lot of fun

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: