July 25, 2017 – Day 2: A Rollercoaster of a Day

It’s 1:00 in the morning, the epoxy has dried, and the robot is ready to go in the pool and get tested. “Glug glug”, the sound that makes us immediately freeze to our spots as water starts leaking inside Auri like a faucet. Suddenly, Brayden and Mike jumped to action, pulled Auri out of the water, and took apart the hull. The boards had been partially submerged in water, which really didn’t help our heart rates as we prayed that the boards would still work. The mechanical and electrical teams took action, plugged in the complimentary hair dryers, and started drying the boards.

Hours flew by, and fear was in the air. The mechanical team was determined to make the emptied robot leak again to see where this untimely hole was. They submerged it and… it didn’t leak? Confused but determined, Andrew and Curtis tried every possible way they could to find out how the robot would have that much water escape into it again, but to no avail, they couldn’t do it. After the boards seemed to be dry, the software team held their breath as they tested them. It seems that somehow luck was on our side and the boards actually worked still! How is this possible, you ask? Well hell if I know, but we’re just relieved that it all works still! With that weight off of the our shoulders, everyone went to bed to get rested for the next couple of hours until we had to be up for the morning to Transdec.

In the morning, everyone was extremely reluctant to wake up. Jon came in to the rooms, woke everyone up, and told us that our first run of the day was at 9:00am. Unwillingly, the team groggily woke up, got ready, and got to Transdec just in time for our first run of the day. For that half hour, Auri basically just sat in the water while the software team didn’t know why it wasn’t working. Turns out the Nvidia TX2 wasn’t turned on before it went into the water, so that wasn’t a very successful run. An hour later, the rest of the team showed up to Transdec and we were ready to roll. A nice thing that Transdec has are some small pools on the sides for teams to test their robot in the water without having to book a time in the main pool. So we decided to throw Auri into one of the side pools to test the thruster configurations, and ha a little bit of a surprise. The leak was back! It wasn’t huge like the one last night, but it was still there. The mechanical located it to be a gap in the epoxy on the penetrators, and there was a leak through the o-rings in the hull. As efficiently as they could, Ryan and Curtis replaced the o-rings and applied a fresh coat of epoxy to the penetrators. Due to this inconvenient timing, I went up to Dave – the guy with the pool scheduling, gave up our 2:00pm time slot, and scheduled a run at 6:00pm. I was crossing my fingers that the epoxy would set by then and we could actually use our time.

It’s still the afternoon, and we have about five hours until our pool run. Because we were letting the epoxy set on the robot, we didn’t have much to do until then. Half of the team decided to go back to the hotel and take a nap, while a select few of us stayed back to man the tent. As I was one of the select few to stay back, the hours dragged on as we mingled with teams and enjoyed the humid, overcast weather. The team arrived back around 5:00pm and we got ready for our last run of the day! We threw Auri into one of the side pools again, and it looks like the two 5lb weights we attached made her neutrally buoyant. That’s not good because we have to be positively buoyant for the competition so the robot will float to the top of the water whenever the kill switch is pulled. So, we ended up attaching only one of the weight to the top of the robot. Five minutes to go until our run! Any leaking in the robot? Nope. Is the software team confident about qualifying? It sure looks like it! Are we ready? Yes, we definitely are! The run started and the robot did a backflip! We really did not see that one coming, but we realized the robot was too top-heavy due to the weight we added. Brayden cut it off and re-attached it to the robot so it was more evenly balanced. Now is our time to qualify! The robot was lined up with the gate, kill switch turned on, and Auri was off in a relatively straight line! As she approached the gate, it looked like she was aimed a bit too far to the right. This was proven as we saw her graze the side of the gate, unfortunately not passing through. Darn it! We can do it. Brayden re-aligned Auri with the gate (with the help of Sean) and off it went! One again, it went in a pretty straight line. It looked like it was leaning a little left, however, it passed through the gate! “Autonomy” Noni yelled in celebration, as we now qualify for semi-finals! To my knowledge, this was the first time in ARVP history that we qualified for semi-finals on the first day of the competition. That’s amazing!

After that amazing qualification, we packed up the van, and went on our way back to the hotel. Half of the team got to ride in the van, and the other half set off to start walking back to the hotel since there wasn’t enough room in the van. Once the first batch of people were dropped off, Jon came and picked the rest of us up off of the side of the road and took us back to the hotel. Dinner was two 28″ pizzas again, and we almost didn’t finish all of it! That would have been embarrassing. Auri went into the hotel pool, and the software team continuously got the robot to touch the buoy we had in the pool! This is getting extremely exciting, and maybe we can actually win this thing! We can do this.

Today was such a rollercoaster of a day. We had almost lost our robot to the water and wdidn’t have one successful run all day. This definitely made it seem like we had hit rock bottom, but I guess when you hit the bottom, there is nowhere else to go but up! Thankfully, we came out of nowhere and qualified for semifinals at the last run of the day!  Now it’s just testing the buoy and path detection for tomorrow. Let’s see what’s in store for us!