For the fifth T3 (Trust Time Trial) contest, we've got an easy and fun one: set the best time for a virtual Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Competition course. The real Sparkfun contest will be held on April 17th in Boulder, Colorado, and is simply the fastest time for an autonomous vehicle to do one lap around the company's headquarters (shown above). The DIY Drones team won it last year in a time of 35 seconds, and we (and other DIY Drones community members) will be entering this year, too.

Your mission is to program your UAV to fly a pattern around a rectangle the size of the Sparkfun HQ (dimensions shown above). One lap, fastest time wins. The rules don't say anything about takeoff or landing, so you can cross the start line (shown in the picture) at full speed and it doesn't matter what happens after you cross the finish line. Altitude is up to you, but stay below 400ft, as always, and I'd recommend staying above 100ft to avoid the evil trees!

I expect that competition will come down to fractions of a second. Since most GPS loggers only record a position once per second, you'll need to interpolate between timestamps for both the start and finish time. The way to do this is to draw a line from the pointy bottom tip of two adjacent Google Earth pushpin markers. Estimate how far along that line the start or finish lines cross, and apply that fraction to estimate the real time. This illustration gives an example:

Please show these calculations on your KML path image.

BTW, it would be cool to have a model of the Sparkfun HQ to place in Google Earth so you can display your path around a "real" building. Your Chief T3 Judge, Gary Mortimer, has issued a call for a volunteer to make that model, so when one of you rises to the challenge I'll post it here for all to use.

Same submission rules as always. Submit time, autopilot and airframe, and KML track (both screenshot image and raw data) as evidence in the comments below. Video very much appreciated but not required.

Deadline Wed, March 14th, 12:00 midnight PST.

Gentlemen, start your engines!

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Comment by Brian Wolfe on January 20, 2010 at 3:39pm
Hey Chris,
Looks fun. Not sure of the rules in the real Sparfun competition. I assume the aircraft is already in motion and we start the timer when we pass a virtual starting line. No autonomouse takeoff required? Do we have an altitude limit imposed of staying below the height of the roof or can we take the evil tree out of play by simply flying above everything? I probably wont make it to Colorado this year but some people might want to simulate the official Sparkfun rules here as much as possible for practice.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 20, 2010 at 4:25pm
Brian, good questions. I've edited the post to make all that clear.

Comment by Doug Weibel on January 20, 2010 at 9:14pm
For all of you intending to enter the real Sparkfun competition, pay attention to those evil trees, and the relative lack of flat open space. I was over there the other day and started wondering if I could get my intended racing airframe back on the ground in one piece....

Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 20, 2010 at 9:52pm
I notice the trees on the left of the picture are not labelled evil, how do you know?? Or was it that they just did'nt manage to leap up and grab your aircraft last year??

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 20, 2010 at 10:01pm
Well, those other trees may be no less evil, but they are at least smaller and not in the landing pattern. As for Doug's point about lack of a landing strip, I recommend you get good at Jordi's patented "catch in midair" technique. Warning: not recommended for anyone over 25:

Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 20, 2010 at 10:31pm
I think we should map those light poles as well, that one looks particularly malevolent to me, its in the way its standing.

Comment by Mark Colwell on January 20, 2010 at 10:42pm
I will just bounce my Stryker II off the No Parking sign to stop quick...

Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on January 21, 2010 at 5:14am
Why around stupid flat building and not around Statue of Liberty or Arc de Triomphe (similar size).
Also it should be quite easy to find a model of Eiffel Tower - the structure has well defined 4 corners...

Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 21, 2010 at 5:51am
Rewind the clock, I suggested we do that ages ago, so good plan! As long as the course is flown it matters not what you chose to put in the middle and in fact the more original the model perhaps the higher it will score ;-) But for those going to the event it might prove useful training to have a detailed model, in fact that would apply for the vehicles as well.

Somebody out there has the smarts to make a great model for everyone to use.

It must include a Jordi plane catching obstacle ;-)


Comment by brakar on January 21, 2010 at 6:35am
I suggest you put up a few of these signs :-;
(Yild way for UAVs)


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Season Two of the Trust Time Trial (T3) Contest 
A list of all T3 contests is here. The current round, the Vertical Horizontal one, is here

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