SRR Team Bio: Intrepid Systems
Mark Curry, Ai-Shan Curry
"The team name is meant to convey our team spirit," said team captain Mark Curry.
The Road to Robotics:
"I have been interested in the field for a number of years and I have a broad background that is well-suited to robotics. I have competed in small local robotics competitions, but nothing on the scale and complexity of this one," said Curry.
Entering Centennial Challenges:
"I saw somewhere that NASA had published some new Centennial Challenges and some were related to robotics. I went to the NASA website and found the information and was inspired," said Curry, who has entered other robotics competitions and been successful.
Team Strategy: How Has Your Team Approached This Competition?
Curry says his goal has been to focus on the task at hand and not get carried away in the details. "Don't get too fancy. Keep it simple, but reliable and robust. Don't try to solve all the robotics problems in the world. Just design the robot for this mission and environment."
Dividing the Workload:
Curry said he has taken on 99 percent of the workload, from designing and building to testing and providing funding. "I have spent every available moment of the last nine months or so working on this project. I have raided my retirement savings to fund it," he said.
To make sure that he had time to work in and focus on each discipline required to build the robot, he divided his time between the skill sets required-- mechanical, electrical and software development.
Curry said there have been obstacles along the way, primarily time spent troubleshooting that has eaten into time for other tasks. “Early on, we lost a big chunk of time because the robot chassis was way too heavy and had to be redesigned. This cost us a couple of months.”
Simply finding and then testing components that stay within the required specs -- and budget -- of the competition has also been time-consuming. "It can burn a lot of time debugging these issues."
"Overall, the single biggest factor in this project has been the time available. I overcame the obstacles by simply pressing forward all the time. If I'm stuck on something, then I work on another issue while that other problem percolates in the back of my mind. Usually a solution manifests itself and can be implemented."
Looking Toward the Competition:
Like many of the teams, Curry is curious to see what the other participants have come up with and is looking forward to interacting with their members. He is excited to compete, but knows that it will be a rigorous and difficult challenge. "Experience has taught me that contests always find the weakest link(s) in a design," he said.
If I Had a Million Dollars...:
"I'd probably restock my retirement account first then take some downtime. I'd probably invest in more robotics, actually," said Curry.