3D Robotics

No drones at this year's Sparkfun AVC :-(


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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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  • What a stupid decision! Anybody with a modicum of common sense could figure various ways of safely flying in such events. I think some people are so paranoid they throw common sense out the window.

  • On the other hand, you may be right Rob.  I just did a search on the Sparkfun website for "Ardupilot" and came up with one lonely servo cable...

    What is the world coming to...?

  • I dunno, I bought my first APM board from Sparkfun and more than a couple of sensors to boot.  I think they embody the electronic hacker space of which DIY Drones is a subset. (aside from it becoming increasingly a commentary platform for what everyone else is doing in the arena...)

  • Andrew, I think Sparkfun is quite far from being a "key player in the field".  I'm not sure it' really on the field at all?

  • No drones, no problemo, i have loads of multirotors that arent autonomous :)

    feel sorry for the apm rover guys though, those drones are always fun.

  • Effeminate...really?  

  • I'm so glad we, as inventors, innovators, and Americans, have devolved ourselves in to effeminate safety Nazis.  I mean the logical choice was to back the viewing public up, or for god sakes, have a remote video feed, but being a group of technological simpletons that we are, I support the out right ban of flying drones. They make horrible racket and are only the tools of peeping perverts and have no place in our illustrious technology tree, such as binoculars, one nine hundred sex phone lines, and  sarin gas.

    I am glad that SparkFun, a company based on facilitating the advancements in electronics, as long as it electricity is not used, in fear of shock/burns/cuts, agrees with my moderate views. They are truly the industrial sages of the +10% markup to dissuade the curious, the intelligent, and creative, from purchasing raw goods for such immoral assemblies as flying cameras.

    Good day sirs.

  • Perhaps create all drone competition at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah or some desert like place like that where people can fly in long distances, even ask for FAA permission to fly above 400 ft 

  • Moderator
    @Curt there could be some innovation transfer and some of course why did'nt I think of that moments. Perhaps taking us all back to the heady days of 08 and 09 a little more ;-)
  • It is quite likely their insurance had some say in this as well.  I doubt they were thrilled with the idea of close proximity flying hedge trimmers.

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