Data collection in March can be a chilly business

Last week we went out data collecting with my PhD student Max. Max is working on an airborne robot which can be used in navigation – floating above (say) a robot boat, and giving a top down view of surrounds.

Out at Clarach bay, it was a bit misty. The plan was that I would play the role of the robot boat, whilst sat in the Aberystwyth University Robotics Group Kayak (yes it does exist) paddling back and forth. We’d then test the ability of the vision system to detect targets on the boat, and the control systems to do stuff with the motors. Unloaded the van, flew the balloon, tethered it to the Kayak at about 8m…

It turns out that the motor wasn’t working. It also turns out I’m not actually as good at kayaking as I think I am. Well, I’m probably better in my own kayak, but… basically I was pants. I fell in, on the way out to sea… and then I fell in again at the end. Here’s a balloon’s-eye-view timelapse, where you can detect both events. You can also detect that the blimp doesn’t keep up with me, as the motor wasn’t working, but that the targets are in shot when I turn and that looks OK.

More work needed, I think… both on the blimp front, and the kayak-skillz front. But hey. I fell in the sea in March for Science. Sometimes I love my job.

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