Final Dispatch from the 2015 NASA Rover Challenge
The team finished the second day of racing and held onto a 3rd place finish in the high school division competing against teams from around the world. I'll get to how this all played out in such an amazing way a bit later. We also walked away with the Systems Safety Award which is one more technical report that we created for the first time as a team of medical students from AACT's Medical Academy came together to address how we can make sure that riders and others who work with the rover stay safe.
That improved time was not to be as we started the second day with an impressive climb over a new obstacle in the "Martian Landscape" section of the course that had a big hill but then our male driver's chain slipped off and there was no way to get it back on. We incurred a penalty as our drivers had to push through that obstacle. But then something rather amazing happened.
Rather than get out and push our Rover through the rest of the course, incurring penalties along the way, our riders remounted the vehicle, and with essentially half of our engine gone, our female rider, Maddie, pushed through the rest of the course with Owen giving as much "wheelchair" help as he could as they hit obstacles. And they still managed to beat the times of nearly 70% of the field down half of the horsepower they normally have. I told Maddie that was one of the most inspiring things I'd ever seen when she crossed the line gasping for air. It takes a lot of heart to do that.
To get a taste of what the remaining two thirds of the course was like for Maddie and Owen watch this video. Extraordinary!
We left Huntsville with a podium spot, some more hardware to show for our efforts. We are five years into this program at the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology, and building a legacy as we look to future years of the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge!
For over 12 Years I wrote the Reno Rambler Blog covering everything from Bicycle Advocacy, Reno Politics, Popular Culture, and my experiences as a long-time cyclist.