Today was the day we gave our robots the final touch and had them playing in the sand for the first time.
Andy and Martin spend the entire day working on the walking robot. For the first time, we put on the pajamas (which miraculously fit) and made everything sand proof. Also the metal ‘scales’ on the shanks and the main body were mounted. We are really happy to see that the range of motion was not reduced by these additions. In the late afternoon, we were able to make some first crawling trials and saw that the robot behaves very nicely in sand. The motions are smoother then on the hard floors of our ETH-lab, and it seems that the robot has the climbing abilities that we hoped for.
Cedric ran some tests with the Crabli, which was being operated in an outside environment for the first time, as well. It worked as we hoped, no mayor problems with the steering and communication. The only issue we have to deal with are little rocks, that can get stuck in the wheels of the rover and block them. So I guess, there will be some tape, paper, and maybe tooth brushes to form some simple protection during the actual challenge. I was working on the SpaghettiBOT (as we started calling our winch), but (besides tons of Blue-Screens) nothing really special happened there.
Also the starting order was determined today. We will start as team 7 of 8. On the upside that means that we have one more day of testing then the others and can learn from them. On the downside we have to start around 1am (local time) Sunday morning when it will be really, really cold! If you want to watch this event, ESA will provide two live video streams during the actual challenge. They will be visible with Quicktime or VLC and can be found at the URLs:
(or if you are behind a draconian firewall rtsp://184.108.40.206:80/Live1.sdp)
(or if you are behind a draconian firewall rtsp://220.127.116.11:80/Live2.sdp)
One will follow the robots, one will cover the controlling team (freezing in the night). Our turn is Sunday morning at 2am (Zurich time), so this might be a nice thing to watch after coming home from going out.