The wrap up. Follow Sagar’s adventures as he hangs around the Netherlands in the days leading up to the Grand Cooperative Driving Challenge .
The past few days went by in a blur. We were really busy and I didn’t find time to update this blog with the daily reports. Now that it is all over, I don’t have the energy to write it down, so I am going to wrap it up with a few thoughts.
Our performance in the competition was unbelievably good. We who knew how many problems we had faced during development, tend to be slightly pessimistic about the performance but when it was time for the actual competition, the system delivered a performance that surpassed all expectations. In a complex technical system, expecially one that is rapidly developed, insufficiently tested and undergoing continuous evolution in both the design and implementation, there are always a bunch of known (and unknown) problems lurking under the surface. We were continuously prioritizing which problems we wanted to fix and estimating the scenarios that could occur in the actual competition. It seems that those judgements were mostly accurate, because during the two days of the competition, the system seemed flawless. Perhaps we simply got lucky! Perhaps it was rebound karma from the zipper incident during the journey to NL 🙂
Working on the project was loads and loads of fun, even though there were times when we had to consciously remind ourselves of it. It is also funny how Dennis, Simon, Henrik and I cycled through grumpy moments. During these days, we automatically learned to watch our for warning signs showing an approaching grumpiness session. Rickard was the cool guy throughout.. haven’t seen him strained at anytime. Dennis was the “forced” diplomat. When Henrik got grumpy, Simon and I just got out of the way and pushed Dennis into dealing with him. That generally went well, because Dennis seems to have this amazing ability to convey that he is a reasonable person who will actually listen to you in an unbiased way. Simon and I still have to get there, but once we learn to fake that, we’ll get there too.
One of the nicest experiences for me personally was the opportunity to interact and work with some very smart people. Each team had a bunch of geeks and we had some great conversations and arguments, while the non-technical guys would quizzically shake their heads. We had cooperated with the Germans and the FUTURUM guys from Twente even before coming to NL, and in the preparation week leading up to the competition, we exchanged a lot of insights and tips. Simon actually took time off to drive the A team’s truck when their driver did not turn up, Dennis spent time with the Mekar team after the first day of the competition to help them with their timestamp issues and Chalmers helped us on multiple occasions by driving in front of us while we tested our vehicle control. The Germans were the best prepared and they helped everybody.
So all in all, it was a fun, exciting and rewarding time in the Netherlands. We are quite pleased with our performance and if/when we compete in similar scenarios again, we will start from a proven base platform. This, perhaps, is the biggest technical takeaway from the project.