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Canadian Competition, Day 4

This morning, Team Murphy flew. They were able to capture images and everything seemed well. Unfortunately midway through the flight their plane experienced a loss of R/C signal, and nose-dived into the ground from upwards of 50 meters. This was their last time to fly and the crash occurred during the early portion of the flight. As a result, they were not able to geo reference or visually spot any of the targets. Team Murphy was in high spirits despite this, and are raring to rebuild their system.

Team Murphy looking chipper

The imaging portion of team UAARG had a late night last night. On the drive to Manitoba, we lost our single SD card containing our operating system running our imaging software. We had another, older backup; the imaging team stayed up to troubleshoot and try to get to a functional system. On the flight line, though, we had issues connecting to the onboard camera. Of the 40 minute time limit for our flying, we spent the first twenty trying to get good data from the camera again. Finally at the twenty minute mark we decided to just go with a quick RC flight. The RC flight performed far better than expected. The airframe and electronics were fairly untested and untrimmed but the plane handled with ease.

When we brought the plane back to the ground, the imaging systems still weren’t working. Our camera wasn’t having data being read from it at all. Rijesh came up with the idea to donate his phone as a camera for the flight; a minute and lots of tape later, we were ready to go up. We did a quick 2 minute flight of the search area with the phone precariously taped in, just in the nick of time for the mission to end. We were super excited to review the video once we got back to the pits; lo and behold, we caught three targets!

Locations of the 3 targets

Picture of the tent

After our flight, Arshad reconnected our camera and we were successfully able to run our imaging software and retrieve pictures encoded with geo-referencing data. Essentially, we managed to get all our systems fully functional and operational just as our mission timed out; our jerry-rigged system was that was put together just 2 days prior was functional and back to its original state! We pieced together our report with the data that we had captured, submitted it, and were done with the competition! We were all pretty thrilled and excited with our successes.

The awards banquet was a pile of fun, as always, with a nod by the organizers to the U of A teams’ open, fun, and relaxed attitudes. (The precise term used to describe Team Murphy was “ballsy.”) Neither UAARG nor Team Murphy placed, but we were able to get some prize money. It’s not easy to get 100 people who are all interested in UAVs gathered in one room together, so we made the most of our time chatting with the organizers & judges & other teams and traded some contact information. The quality bar definitely seems to getting higher and higher each year.

It’s been an exhilarating past couple of days. Let’s close this post here with an amazing shot of the Northern Lights that we were able to witness last night.

Is that Arshad or Usain Bolt? We can’t tell either.

We’ll talk to you soon!