13th Sept - Tue - Shakedown 1

The day starts at 0800 hours. Breakfast first then at 0830 we are outside to get Bridget ready. Steve and Laurence, from Aberystwyth University, set up the PanCams while Andy and Martin get the support equipment. 

Adel and Karina, two English girls that are here in Tenerife on a prize winning holiday, see the rover and have a go at driving it (see photo). They do it pretty well I must say.

With Bridget fully assembled and ready, the shakedown testing begins. Shakedowns are dry runs in which we try out all the equipment - we fine tune the rover and we make sure everything is working properly so that when the official field trial days begin, Bridget is fully ready. You may think there is not a lot to shakedowns, but there are many unexpected events, logistics issues and things that simply change the schedule. 

We go to the chosen location for the shakedown: Llanos de Ucanca. Getting Bridget into the actual test site proves to be tricky. We first need to unbolt part of the park Armco barriers that keep motor vehicles out of the protected sites in the Park. We put Bridget on top of the Mole (she is heavy - we need four people for that) and then we drive the Mole to the first test site. The Mole makes it much easier and faster to get Bridget into the field - Bridget can only do 150m per hour. In some cases the place where we introduce Bridget into the field is a long way (up to 800 metres) from the test site but the Mole helps us to get Bridget there as quickly as possible.

Note : The photos below can also be viewed at the following PicasaWeb link;

Tenerife Trials - September 13

Flight (Lester) and Network (myself) start setting up the control centre in the van - we have it parked in one of the car parks - currently more than 500m away from Bridget. Rover (Martin) and Control (Andy) are down in the field testing the range of the communications network. Once it's working, they drive Bridget to the test site for the day.
Some battery issues arise but these are fixed following a radio conversation with Lester. I go down to set up a webcam that will be on board Bridget (you should see some of the recorded videos in the LIVE page, although it was just a test and it’s all over the place…). Control (Andy) is back at the van and we manage to drive the rover remotely - more good progress. My thoughts drift to the future... Lunar missions allow this kind of “human in the loop” joystick driving technique as the delays are relatively low (around 5 seconds). It requires a lot of caution though!

Driving the rover remotely it is clear how important a camera is - describing obstacles and issuing drive instructions via radio is extremely difficult. That's why Field Trials are useful - you see things for yourself.  To help the situation, Steve uses his iPhone to Skype Lester (flight) to provide visual feedback and help with the remote driving.

There is also a Skype call with the PRoVisG Summer School that is taking place in Berlin to discuss what images they will have to process by the end of the day - we manage to get a set of PanCam images to them at the end of the day.

We go to bed at 0100 !. Still a lot of things to fix, still a lot of things to sort out, but there has been good progress today with a good set of images being obtained on this our first shakedown day.

Read the blog for the day - Blog 13/09/11