Day 10 – ANA Avatar XPRIZE – On our way to the podium?

Our guest writer today: Our very own Camille!

If yesterday was frustrating, today was stressful!

Today was the first day of Live for the Competition. Seventeen teams competing, from 10.00 am to 06.00 pm, in front of a huge audience (er, no… 50 people?) and doing their best to make the most points out of their run. Some robots not moving, others falling on the ground, one even literally losing its head. But quite a nice succession of perseverance and efforts were on display throughout the day. Probably the most exciting time since our arrival. Probably also the most nerve-wreaking!

A morning of preparation : adaptability, robustness and efficiency

Today, the schedule was tight. After a meeting with the whole team about yesterday’s network issues, the tech. team was dispatched on the different tasks. So much to do and prepare in just a few hours. Scheduled for 3.00pm for the installation in the operator room, everything had to be ready one hour before. And so much to do… Nothing really changed for the network and would probably not change until the end of the Competition. The only choice left was to adapt. The hands also needed a power boost (without melting!)

And we needed to man the booth. From 10.00am, people started visiting us. They were welcomed by our three partners: Haption, Halodi and SENSIKS. Haption was quite well liked by the children.

A nerve-wreaking afternoon

how to tell something is not right

Initially, the XPRIZE team made a really precise schedule. Well, after five days we already learned the truth… Never trust schedule! DELAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, after an initial scheduled start at 3.00pm, we finally got there at 4.30. One hour of preparation and quite a nice operator made a good training and finally we were there! But of course, never should we forget their network management capabilities. Another network issue… Obviously, Jan and Christiaan couldn’t let that happen. Jan refused to allow the run to start and Christiaan succeeded in making Matt allowing us to use another room’s network equipment. Further delays, but better quality!

At that time, the best team had 14.5 out of 15 in about 13 minutes. At equal points, winners are selected based on time. So, to beat them, we needed either 15 points or a faster 14.5. Now, with the network changes, team NIMBRO had to run first. We became the very last to run for the day. Presenters, live streams, score boards, screens: everything was shut down. By the time it was our turn, the public had left and the best score was 15 points in 9 minutes… A challenge, at last!

During the run, the operator has to do 5 tasks: a social interaction,  flipping a switch, finding and lifting  the heavy bottle, operating a drill to open a hatch and finally, picking up the roughest stone.

 Luckily, we had a very competitive operator. Well, at least, he was three hours earlier, when we trained him. By the time he could start, fatigue was setting in. The first task went blazingly fast with no time for socializing. The switch was a walk in the park and then… the walk in the park started. He strolled to the bottles, took his time to align himself, showed off that he had two arms. And that was just the beginning. He moved REALLY carefully to the drill, took the time to adjust the robot position in front of the bolt and finally put the drill in the trunk next to the bolt area. All of this embellished by jokes and joyful monologues. Funny, but the stress! The stress… Thirty more seconds, and we would have had 15 instead of the 14 we got.

We finally finished 4th out of 17 teams. A remarquable result considering all the issues at hand and a ticket for a potential 2nd place tomorrow.

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