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This is a blog for the University of Texas at Austin Robotics and Automation Society’s (RAS) entry in the 2013 Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC). Some of us working on this project are also doing it for a senior design project for our ECE degrees. This blog will be our journal going forward throughout this semester. Here we will track our progress, log results of testing, and hypothesize future plans. We hope this will help us better reflect on our work. Understanding our developing perspective might also help future IGVC teams do better.

Over the past several years, our group has derived a unique work ethic from our experiences with building robots for personal projects and other competitions. We’re not motivated to work on this project because we’re getting course credit to do it. Most of us think that the UT ECE senior design course is a joke. We’re not motivated by our faculty mentor, Dr. Valvano, because although he is an excellent professor and a great mentor, he isn’t a football coach. We’re not motivated because we’re being paid to work on this–because we’re not being paid. We’re all volunteers. Admittedly, we are somewhat motivated by the $25,000 grand prize for winning the IGVC AutoNav challenge, since our robotics organization has always historically had serious funding issues. But what really motivates us–at least for the core team of 4 or 5 people–what really makes us able to stay up all night, for several nights in a row, skip class, rush through homework, research topics we’ve never heard of for days on end, all in order to make progress on this project… is that we love the process. We love building robots. We love the complexity of this kind of engineering challenge, and we enjoy rising the meet complex challenges. That’s it.

I think this is one of our greatest advantages, and it means that everyone working on this project is doing it because it’s fun.

Also, the hot water heater we’re keeping in the lab: endless supplies of cheap, instantaneously obtainable tea doesn’t hurt.

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