Today we welcomed several new team members to the desert. Chief among them is William (Red) Whittaker, the Principal Investigator of the Atacama Desert Trek and Carnegie Mellon's Lunar Rover Initiative, and the director of Carnegie Mellon's Field Robotics Center. Red joins us to make sure operations here are going smoothly, and also will spend a few days visiting with some of the many "Friends of Nomad" here in Chile, i.e., organizations that have contributed to the success of our project. Without the help of these many Chilean institutions and individuals, our work here could not have gone nearly as well.
Another newcomer is Deepak Bapna, graduate student in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. Deepak designed the Precision-Pointing Antenna system that enables people all over the world to view Nomad's panospheric imagery, and helped develop the total architecture for our communications link. He joins us now to perform experiments with the pointing system for his thesis work. He also came bearing gifts; some coffee (we just ran out), and what looks to be really good Indian food. As a vegetarian, Deepak was understandably concerned by the typical fare out here. It seems that by the time the summer is over, most of us will have eaten enough parts to make a whole cow. We all look forward to sampling his cornucopia of food as well; we miss the traditional Indian food lunches we used to have almost daily in Pittsburgh.
And finally, we welcome Steve Dow and April Rathe to our team. Steve and April are students at the University of Iowa working with Prof. Geb Thomas. Geb and the folks in his Grok Lab developed much of the immersive display software used in the big theater at the Carnegie Science Center, part of Nomad's expert operator control interface, and other interactive parts of the Science Center exhibit. Steve and April join us now to help out with communications, logistics, and logging, to free up time so the rest of us can work on other important issues (e.g., writing daily updates).
Together with the new folks, we welcomed the arrival of a fresh supply of snack food. When you spend the day out in the desert, you really need to bring supplies with you. Unfortunately some of our supplies never quite made it to the desert; more than a dozen bags of groceries were left overnight in a truck parked in the big city, and by morning three or four of them had disappeared. Living in the desert, you get accustomed to not only leaving car doors unlocked, but also leaving the keys in the ignition. So one of the doors was probably left open, but it's ok; the main result is that we will just have to live without a bag full of cookies and a case of orange juice.
Today went better for the autonomy system, with 740 additional meters accumulated. The distance is perhaps not as impressive as it had been on other days, but only because of the impressiveness of the terrain; there were man perceived obstacles today. The system is still a little too conservative, because sometimes even small hills appear to be major obstacles.
Total distance today: 5.951 kilometers