Sparkfun has just announced the rules of this year's Autonomous Vehicle Competition, and the big news is that drones are no longer part of it for safety reasons. Having witnessed the crash they say precipitated this (which was as scary as they say), I have to agree that the logistics of this competition and limited crowd control makes this a good call IMO.
First off, the most important change. There is no aerial category for this year’s competition. We know, this is a disappointment to many people, but hear us out. Last year, we had a few too-close-for-comfort calls involving aerial bots and the crowd. We literally have nightmares about someone getting hurt by a quadcopter. One incident in particular (that left a large dent in a chainlink fence), gave us serious hesitation about the safety we could provide our guests.
Furthermore, with the booming popularity of quads and other drones, there are more and more regulations in place. This year’s location (our new building - more on that below!) is quite close to Highway 119 and we are not legally allowed to have aerial vehicles – particularly unmanned ones – zipping around. Also, frankly, there just isn’t the space for it – we want AVC to be the best it can be, and that wouldn’t be possible in the space we have available.
With that out of the way, we do have a number of exciting changes that will hopefully pique your interest!
This year’s course.
The ground category rules will largely be the same as in the past. You can see the full rundown of rules over on our AVC site. Of note is that we are adding an incentive to folks that do not use GPS in their bots. There will also be a special shortcut to be revealed at a later date.
Hanging out on our rooftop. It was Halloween - Nate doesn’t always dress like that.
Also, as I said above, this year’s AVC will be at our new building! We are pretty proud of our new digs and are excited to show it off. If you haven’t seen the new place, this will be your chance!
Casey, SparkFun Engineer and Master of Destruction, is spearheading the combat robot competition. Be afraid.
And finally – and maybe the addition we are most excited about – is that there will be a 1 lb Combat Robot competition! If you haven’t ever seen combat robots in action, it is pretty darn exciting. We are expecting a great turnout and hope to see some awesome destruction.
In addition to the robotics portions of the event, we are planning another hackathon (details to be announced at a later date), as well as project demos, booths from folks in the maker community, food trucks and more!