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[DPRG] Practice contest course

Subject: [DPRG] Practice contest course
From: David P. Anderson dpa at io.isem.smu.edu
Date: Mon Dec 16 00:10:01 CST 2002


correcting a small inaccuracy... Kip wrote:

> David, you have a 1/4 size course to practice on with cardboard walls for
> the T-Time and Can-can contests.  The fact that it is not exactly the white
> walls, and black floor dies not prevent you from testing 99% of the
> functionality.  

Not totally accurate.  I have a FULL SIZE TTime course setup in the attic
of the Heroy building at SMU, or I did until the firemarshall found out and
took it apart.  But I did have one for about 3 years.

It's the main secret weapon that I have for winning the Can-Can competition:
testing!  It's where I found out, for example, that the soda can recognition
technique I was using that worked so well in my garage didn't work at all
on the full size course, because of multi-path reflections of the sonar and
long term drift of the odometry.

As I mentioned to Kip, I had probably run that contest 100 times before I
ever entered it.  If I had depended on the twice-yearly contests, it would
have taken me 50 years to get to that same point!

It seems to me the best service the club could offer its members is a chance
to run their robots on the real course at the monthly meetings.  I still
fantasize about having our meetings at the Science Place, and convincing
them to have a full-size TTime course as a permanent exhibition.  Maybe
with a DPRG logo inlaid at one end and Science Place (Coca Cola?  Coors?
Nike? New Micros?) at the other.

Alan at one time thought we might be able to paint a permanent course on
the floor at the B.P. Institute, but that was nixed by the powers that be. 
Too bad.

The warehouse is a step in the right direction, but really too small for
full meetings and contests.  Would be nice to be able to practice on the
same surface, with the same lighting conditions, etc, as the contest.  Also
how valuable to run your robot on the course when having a problem and
have the members be able to see its performance and offer suggestions!!!
This would be a tremendous addition to the meetings.  

In that case, a big mother steel sumo ring that could also be left in 
one place and accessed at every meeting and contest would not have to be
moved, becomes more practical.

What we need is a wealthy benefactor...


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