Well, the team did not make Utah (the championship) this year. Obviously, we were all disappointed, but we are still proud of the work we did and how much we learned. I would like to highlight some of the key takeaways and lessons from the season.
Suspension: Lessons learned
We were very ambitious with the suspension from the get-go. We wanted to replicate the Mantis suspension from Missouri Science and Technology, but we were unsuccessful. In short, we bit off more than we could chew. Still, we managed to learn a lot about process development. We went through several iterations on each bracket, and we utilized Calvin’s machine shop to make all our linkages. Adam, Duncan, Brandon, and Kees each learned how to use the mills to make production quality parts, and they got to see their design come to life. This team has already begun work on the next rover, and we intend for it to be simple and bullet proof.
Programming: Lessons learned
Here, again, we saw some incredible achievements and firsts for our team members. We learned about PID control loops, and we developed our own control system. We utilized powerful tools like Open CV and Tensor Flow for vision tracking. We got to use a depth sensing camera, the likes of which we have barely scratched the surface of in usage. We made the rover drive, something our team members had never done before, and by far the most inspiring achievement of the year. Next year, we will completely rework our arm code and build an interface to quickly review rover systems. Our goal is a perfect communications system with zero failures come competition time.
Electrical: Lessons learned
We made our own lithium-ion battery. Sure, it did not fit in the box the first time, but it actually worked! It even charged! We also developed our very own power systems, controls systems, and communications systems, all of which worked very well. This team was incredibly efficient and did everything they set out to do very well. They are well primed to advance the technology further next year as we seek to rebuild our communications framework and work with new control systems.
We started working on the next rover as soon as we heard back from Utah. It was tough to hear, but it gave us renewed purpose and will unify us to do better next season. We are excited to get more students next year and continue to be the best opportunity for hands-on learning Calvin has to offer. We would like to thank our generous sponsors for supporting us this season, and we are always looking for new companies to partner with. We aim to continue improving every aspect of the team, and we will never stop improving.
We also named new team leaders, and we will have more structure moving forward. With an extra year of experience under our belts, we believe we will do what it takes to qualify for Utah.
Sam Dare, founder and Chief Engineer