January & February 2021 Happenings
Despite only being two months into the year, UQR has already been super busy with various happenings both relevant to the evolution and validation of our vehicles and recruitment of new members to the team.
We have certainly hit the ground running with the development of our 2021 DV. This year, under the management of our 2021 DV Technical Director, Cristina, we’ve managed to increase our productivity tenfold by implementing the scrum methodology for high level software development. So far, we have undertaken four ‘sprint’ meetings wherein we have discussed our progress over the past fortnight, particularly what went well and what could be improved upon. We then went through our task backlog in order to reprioritise what needs to be completed urgently and what can be undertaken at a later date. Currently, we’ve been working on the procurement of sensors such as our LiDAR, GPS, Camera and IMU and our computer hardware. On a high note, we have finally acquired the cones that our car will detect around the track! When it came to choosing which devices would best fit our desired specifications, very careful consideration was taken into account through the use of detailed decision matrices and contacting various suppliers for quotes. Additionally, we have been researching and primarily implementing various software and algorithms such as SLAM for state estimation, YOLOv4 for computer vision and Jenkins which can be used to assist with upcoming simulations once we manage to integrate it with our operating system, ROS. In the near future, we hope to conduct extended research into areas such as path and motion planning and steering and braking actuation as we progress towards our goal of having a running car by the end of this year.
In addition to the progression of our DV design, we have continued to give focus to our 2020 EV, Barnacle through continuous testing and validation. Earlier in January, with the leadership of our 2021 EV Technical Director, Riley, we undertook 3 track days where we tested ARB settings, tried different springs with varied N/mm values and gave some of our drivers valuable seat time. Our goal is to continue to upgrade the design of our car in order to maintain a competitive standard at the 2021 FSAE-A competition at the end of the year (fingers crossed that it will go ahead!). We have further managed to consolidate a timeline for the development of our 2022 EV, which we hope to begin working on towards the middle of this year.
Our driver training program has seen modifications with a focus on both physical fitness and practical experience behind the wheel. As such, we have recently pulled our 2019 IC, Bobkat out of retirement for one last stint in order to assist new drivers in their endeavours. Despite the initial challenges of repairing an unused car, we have managed to complete the majority of fixes required to have a running car for our driver training track day, scheduled for early March.
Along with the beginning of the new year, we have been very fortunate in the acquisition of new sponsor Skybourne Technologies who have partnered with us through the provision of finances and learning resources. We are immensely grateful for their support this year and we hope to continue developing and maintaining auspicious relationships both with them and our existing sponsors into the future.
Two weeks ago was UQ O-Week and as such, the annual Market Day was held on The Great Court. This year, we also opted to run a stall at the BEL Fest in the UQ Centre’s Exhibition Hall in order to reach out to more students studying business, economics and law disciplines. Overall, the day was a huge success with hundreds of fliers being held out and around 50 people joining the mailing list. We hope to see a bunch of new faces at our New Member Night on Thursday, March 4th.
It’s pretty clear that we have been successful in a number of technical and recruitment undertakings, but we have also been fortunate enough to enjoy several social events as a team such as bouldering outings and Valentine’s Day brunch. At the start of February, we also went on our first team retreat of the year to Amamoor Creek. Through a number of team-building activities such as puzzle games, trivia, tug-of-war, hiking and even a couple of creek swims, we were able to build upon our already existing good team morale. We are hoping to continue holding additional retreats throughout the year especially for the incoming flux of new members.
We are very excited to continue sharing our ongoing developments with our sponsors and supporters as we strive to meet our goals for both our EV and DV in 2021!
Written by Jessica Hartfiel