Atlanta, Day 1

As you might have heard, the UBC Thunderbots team is currently at Georgia Tech for a robot soccer competition in preparation for Robocup 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. We have 7 people going, from electrical, mechanical, and CPSC. I’m the youngest here I think. Most other team members are grad students or at least 5th year. I’m also the only electrical guy. If the robots break down electrically I’ll have lot’s of fun!

This is more like a small test run, so only a handful of universities are participating – Georgia Tech, UBC, Harvard, MIT. Competition should be strong!

Note that this is not the official team blog. The official one is here: http://ubcrobocup.com/blog though I’m not sure if anyone will update it.

Not much was done on the first day. Mostly just traveling.

We departed UBC at around 7:30, and took 1:30pm flight from Seattle to Atlanta. I love how the security people didn’t mind our whole box of highly explosive lithium polymer batteries at all, but we can’t have a bottle of water.

The flight is 4 hours, and with another 3 hours of time difference, it’s already night time when we got to Atlanta, and got picked up by wonderful people from RoboJackets (Georgia Tech’s robocup team, who are hosting the event).

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Team trailer?! We need one of those, too…

Half an hour later, we were at Georgia Tech! It was very dark, so we didn’t see much. The school feels much bigger though, despite having a student population much LESS than UBC. Buildings look more traditional, probably because most of Georgia Tech was built during WWII.

More exploring planned for sure.

Our playing field, in their manufacturing research lab (hence the big cranes) –

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Then we went to a local pub for dinner with them (at around 11, no other place is open). Food was alright, talked to their electrical guy that graduated a while ago. Learned a bunch. He is experimenting with using high powered laser to etch PCBs (instead of the traditional photoresist method), very cool! We also talked about electronics design for our robots. It’s interesting to see how our teams have taken different trade-offs in electronics design (eg. they sacrificed kicker performance for safety with completely isolated charging circuit, when we don’t even have a fuse on the highly explosive batteries…).

It’s interesting that even though we are/will be in a competition, we share our dark secrets freely. I looked at their PCBs for a few minutes, and asked him loads of questions. I guess this is one thing I love about academia. No secrecy. Fun to see how other people tackle the exact same problems, with similar high level designs, but different low level implementations.

Then we talked about grad school options, since he is applying to grad schools right now. Georgia Tech sounds like somewhere I’ll want to go. They have a huge robotics program (where UBC is all nano, which I’m not particularly interested in).┬áCarnegie┬áMellon, Caltech, and MIT also have robotics programs. Lot’s of choices!

Tomorrow, MIT and Harvard teams will be arriving! Tonight, thanks to being on a budget, we are sleeping in sleeping bags on their dorm floors.

Floor is hard.

2 thoughts on “Atlanta, Day 1”

  1. I am impressed. Keep up the good work Matthew! Don’t forget to take your vitamins, and we miss you! I will water your plants, don’t worry.

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