1a. It is our intent to offer a self-moderated time for teams to assemble and test their vehicles/systems in the actual arena prior to the event. Sometimes our access to the Georgia Tech facilities have not been as promised when we contracted for the space. We are at the mercy of those who open up the buildings (in the past this has been the GT Athletic Department). We are in the process of negotiating a move to a larger facility on the Georgia Tech campus for 2017, and the behind-the-scenes logistics will probably be different (better). “Self-moderated” means that the teams coordinate among themselves for flight times and durations. The intent is that teams use any time provided prior to the event to assemble and align their systems. All too often teams come unprepared to the IARC and do last minute “development” which can consume arena time doing things that they should have done at home. Teams should monitor the situation and stick to an arena-use schedule that is mutually agreeable. The Organizers will not mediate these testing periods other than to negotiate with the university for the practice time slot.
1b. The Official Rules state that “The floor space inside the arena will be optically textured with an unknown random or regular pattern. “ (see page 11). The Organizers have worked to assure that the floor patterns used at the American and Asia/Pacific Venues will be the same to eliminate any unfair advantage, but everyone has the same opportunity to photograph the floor pattern on their first visit to the IARC (as many have done). In some cases, those requesting a digital photograph of the floor pattern have been supplied with such in advance. Therefore all teams are on an equal footing in terms of accessing knowledge about the floor pattern as well as any other physical feature of the arena. No promises are made in the Official Rules to provide flooring specifics, so teams not requesting photographs of the flooring pattern from either the Asia/Pacific or American Venues, from another team, or from the Organizers, by their inaction, put themselves at a disadvantage. Please note that the the Official Rules do not guarantee a particular floor pattern, only that “The floor space inside the arena will be optically textured with an unknown random or regular pattern”, so it is entirely possible that the Organizers could change the floor pattern from year to year. Gearing a system to key-in on a particular floor pattern could be putting a team at risk as we would remain entirely compliant so long as the Asia/Pacific or American Venues maintain an optically textured random or regular pattern.
1c. Go with the pipe length being 1<length<2. We will check to see if one of our pipes was cut short and replace it.
1d. The top plates are being redesigned and the modification will be posted shortly. Problems with the top plates, as they are, fall into three categories. First, the suggestion that a “floor tile” material be used (which is what we used in 2016) proved to be problematic because the floor tile squares turned out to NOT be dimensionally stable. They sagged with time so that they were not totally flat. They will all be replaced with thin aluminum (approx 1/16 inch thick). The second problem as observed, is that the downwash caused the plates to flip up. A fix was to put a piece of ribbon or string on the plate to prevent it from flipping higher than the length of the string. We are looking into a different method of restraining the plate. Also, there is the potential that an incredibly strong downwash could push the plate so hard that it compresses the spring and actuates the microswitch prematurely or accidentally. For this reason, we are going to increase the stiffness of the recommended spring so that any aerial robot making physical contact will activate the switch, but the likelihood of a downwash activation would be less likely. The third issue is with the starting of the iRobot Creates. The on/off switch is occluded beneath the plate. When the plate is constrained in its flapping angle, a special hooked tool had to be used to activate the on/off switch. We will be putting a small hole in the plate to allow this switch to be accessed with a straight tool from the top.
The Judges base their “Elegance of Design” determination on the actual machines as well as the Symposium description. That determination is not made solely at the Symposium. The “Mixer” held prior to the competition day is intended as the time for teams to get to know each other. Bringing their aerial robots to that event is entirely acceptable. Also this interaction can occur during any practice time. One problem is the scheduling of facilities availability. The IARC occurs during the time of year when new students are on campus for orientation. Therefore we are vying for the same spaces that are used for orientation, so scheduling large areas for team displays is another issue.
1e. The Judges agree that we need an announcer. The Asia/Pacific Venue has a full-time announcer and the American Venue needs to do the same. Everyone should know which team is up (although we had that on a screen in 2016), what they are going to attempt, when they “go autonomous”, and when the run ends.
1f. The rationale for the granting of awards is determined by the Judges. They are available after the Team Awards Banquet to answer questions pertaining to performance improvements and what strengths and weaknesses they see in the teams.
2a. One reason to move to a larger venue on the Georgia Tech campus is to eliminate crowding around the arena. The Asia/Pacific Venue also uses line monitors with aluminum poles to knock down air vehicles that go too far out of bounds. While there are kill switches, this is an added layer of safety. During the 2016 Asia/Pacific Venue, no less than two aerial robots had poles thrust through their propellers to knock them out of the after going out of bounds.
2b. So noted.
2c. Two large first aid kits have already been purchased for the American Venue in 2017. We will no longer rely solely on the first aid provided by the Georgia Tech facility in which we are operating. These kits will be at the side of the arena.
3a. Two thing drive the competition dates. Availability of the facilities and coordination between the American and Asia/Pacific Venues. The American Venue is currently being negotiated for 2017, but the university does not schedule events farther out than several months. The IARC would like to schedule the space a year in advance, but the university will not do that. We hope to announce the American Venue dates some time in March when the calendar for the desired space opens for July/August. Then we must also coordinate with the Asia/Pacific Venue in an attempt to get the venues in sync and nearly simultaneous.
3b. In the past we have attempted to get “room blocks” at a specific hotel to get better rates for the teams and so the teams could stay close together and close to the venue. Unfortunately, when we negotiated the room block, teams often rejected the room block to stay at another location, stay with local friends or family, or cancelled. This causes trouble with the hotel, and we must “guarantee” the room block, paying for unused rooms. This is too much risk for our budget, so we leave the choice of hotel up to the individual teams. We have also tried to get dormitory rooms for the teams on campus, but because the IARC occurs during the university’s orientation time, all of the dormitory rooms are allocated to newly enrolled students who are coming for their orientation week.