Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lunar Robotics Challenge - Day 4 – Day and Night Testing

To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of testing for us today. Just after we carried all our stuff to the top of the testing hill, the WiFi-adapter on the walker broke down. After several unsuccessful attempts to fix the problem via software, we had to take the whole robot apart and actually install a replacement card. Then we could do a couple of steps downhill that were really promising with regard to the stability of the robot on the slope. Even without being supported by the tether cable, the robot didn’t slip an inch. The scale-like plates on the bottom are doing a great job. Unfortunately after getting to deep into the crater, we lost communication and had to abort the trial. And at this point everything started to go wrong. First the hardware broke down. We had to replace some of the cables in the pulley system, exchange one of the bevel-gears, and keep patching the pajamas. At the same time, we had to work on the communication issues until deep in the night, so that we couldn’t do any of the testing we were supposed to do (like spotting the specimen, collecting it, and generally navigating in the dark). It was a bit frustrating after the extremely promising first trials on Tuesday and Wednesday. But then again, it’s probably better to have to the trouble now, than during the actual challenge.

The two robots right at the edge where we were testing today. The slope is not as steep as it appears in this picture, but even for humans, it’s really hard to get up the sandy inclines.

Our team on the top of our testing peak. It’s Tenerife, but we’re at more than 2000 meter altitude. So it’s not too warm. From left to right: Andi Lauber, Cédric Pradalier, Martin Latta, Oliver Baur, and David Remy.

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