The beginning of this week was very similar to how my weeks have gone so far. I kept working with the Crazyflie drones. Andrew and I tried moving it to another room with Vicon set up but couldn’t get the Vicon system to work connect properly. Monday and Tuesday were filled with attempts to correctly connect as we have been able to with the Vicon system in the large cage. As per weekly tradition, Tuesday night we all went to trivia night. I really enjoyed it because it was a theme night and all the questions were about one of my favorite TV shows. It was also my birthday, so we celebrated that and our third-place win with cake at the end.
Wednesday, I did something different. I came into the lab a little bit earlier to head out with Adam and Mark to the field. This meant that we drove around 30 minutes away from the lab to an empty field. This way, we could fly the larger drones at larger heights, testing different modes and challenges. This time, we tested a few different ways to drop smaller things from a big drone. The large drone had 8 propellers and was called the Matrice M600. For the first few tests, we dropped weights with parachutes attached to see if the system could successfully drop the package. I didn’t like these tests because part of my job was to chase down the parachutes before they flew into the corn fields or the forest. I am not very fast, so this was tough for me. After these tests, we moved to dropping smaller drones from the large one. We dropped the FlameWheels, which are the drones that we built in the first week. This was super cool to see since I built that drone and it was actually doing work in the field! I was also excited that there were no crashes and most things worked as expected.
When I came back from the field Wednesday, I hopped into a meeting that Dr. Duncan was giving to all of the undergraduates in the lab. She walked us though how to plan your research, then related it to Human-Robot Interaction, which is what I will be starting later this summer. The rest of Wednesday and all of Thursday consisted of Andrew and I fiddling with the Crazyflie and Vicon system. There was not much progress, as neither of us knew a lot about Vicon.
By Friday, we were so close to figuring out Vicon in the smaller room. We had worked so long with Ajay, Siya, and Jean-Paul to get everything working as we hoped. At around 4:30, we had made a breakthrough! We finally got my computer working well with Vicon, all that was left was to try flying the drone. Fifteen minutes later, we had everything set up to test it out. Everything was running, and all that was left was to push the launch button. And then there was a power-out. It turned off the Vicon system and the machine running it. I was heartbroken because I was hoping to have everything wrapped up and on my way out by 5:00. But I didn’t have to worry too much. Andrew and I worked really hard and were able to get everything back up and flying. The good news was that we were able to get the Crazyflie up off the ground finally! The bad news: it was having the same flight patterns as before. It would just drift off to a side. Andrew and I decided to call Friday a win and approach the other problems Monday once we had a clear mind.