Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Giant Robot Headed for Colorado

Woot! We're going to Colorado! Sparkfun.com is hosting an Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle contest in their parking lot in April. This is exactly the kind of contest my powerwheels robot is designed for!

When I first read about the competition, my first reaction was "of course we never have anything like this in Oklahoma." Then I thought, damn it, after all the cool robot events I miss out on because they're in Seattle, or California, I'm sick and tired of getting left out just because I live in the sticks. I'm going to this one. Colorado isn't that far.

It's funny because you could see the same thought process go on when I asked my friend Earl Martin to come with me. "Oh I'd love to go, but really I can't..." It was his wife who convinced him, "Go! Go have fun!" (Wives of geeks, take note: you may not be able to break us of the habit of taking over the kitchen table with an occaisional soldering project, or the habit of accumulating mountains of computer electronics junk, no matter how often you roll your eyes at it, but a just little bit of encouragement from you goes a long way to making us feel enthusiastic again when we need that approval. I'm indebted to my own wife for selflessly sacrificing our living room so I can have a place to work on the robot to get it ready for the contest.)

I also asked my friend Ben to come along. He's a great guy to have around, but he's hard to pin down. When I wanted him to be one of my groomsman in my wedding, he was off in England! So I don't know if he'll be available for the trip but I hope so. He said he might be able to fix me up with a mini-ITX board running Intel's open source machine vision library - very cool!

My sister Ginny also asked to come along. I had automatically assumed it wouldn't be something she would be interested in, but when I mentioned it, she asked to come along. I don't know how the transportation situation will play out because my car doesn't have a lot of room, and most of it will be taken up by the robot, but I'm sure things will work out. If she wants to go I certainly don't object and who knows? We might turn her into an engineer, by osmosis.