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"Embracing your failures"

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  • "Embracing your failures"

    Hello Teams,

    After the competition, this community often gets disbanded (in one way or another) and the following year some teams have to start from scratch. When this happens, the new team is likely to make the same mistakes as the previous one and technology development is often slow or even stagnant in some cases.

    During our live video conference, Dr. Robert Ballard talked about how your failures can be motivators to your pathway(s) of success and this post is dedicated to that effort.

    My goal (for 2020 and beyond) is that a new team, or a returning team with new members, can reference this content and hopefully learn from each others mistake. This is the only way we can advance the state of AUV technology, as a community (not as individuals).

    To achieve this, I humbly request each team to share stories of their failure (before RoboSub or during RoboSub). The submission can be anonymous if you wish (just create a personal account and post). If you are still unsure on the anonymity part, please feel to send me an email (or a private message on here) and I will post it for you (anonymously of course).

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to share.

  • #2
    Since I created the post, it is only fair that I lead with a story of my own failure (from my student competition days). I will just share a high-level overview and minimize the details. I hope this is helpful and some of you can even get a laugh out of it (at my expense) because you can relate.

    At a student competition, as the practice week progressed, so did my team’s ability to tackle multiple tasks (and with good precision). There was one task we left as a "nice to do". We had the necessary hardware and a pre-packaged software module but neither had been integrated into the main system (some of you already know where this is headed).

    During semi-finals, we had an excellent run and were one of the top scoring teams. Having made it to the finals, we thought we needed to do something extra to snag the victory. We decided to install the hardware and software for the untested task and start our finals run.

    After adding the hardware and launching our vehicle in the "arena" our vehicle never left the starting point. During troubleshooting procedure, we identified the problem but did not have the time to fix it. The new hardware severely interfered with the previously working system, so much so, that we could not even establish communication with the vehicle to upload the code.

    Some people will read this and go “it worked for my team though" and that may be the case for you, this year. What about next year, and the year after that?

    Turns out that if we had simply repeated our semi-finals performance (for the finals run) we would have won the competition. It was a hard lesson learned in competition strategy and more so, understanding the inherent risk in deploying untested systems (or sub-systems).

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    • #3
      Received an anonymous response that I will share below.

      I love RoboSub. What else can I say. It's an awesome opportunity for hands-on full stack robot autonomy development. From integrating hardware, to writing the code that uses that hardware, to testing the sub, and ultimately competing against other amazing teams. The whole competition is fantastic - well organized, friendly and helpful staff, exceptional facility, and running the team's robosub on the obstacle course is the best.

      This person also shared the below, something I know a lot of you can relate to (I hope).

      My waking thoughts are consumed tweaking autonomy algorithms, worrying if the gains are tuned correctly, and dreaming about our next chance to hit the open water together.

      Thank you for taking the time to share about your experience with us.

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