28/07/2015 - News

Joint interview with Kris Kydd and Loïc Sabarly

Designed and financed byTotal, the ARGOS Challenge is being implemented in partnership with the French National Research Agency (ANR). Kris Kydd from Total and Loïc Sabarly from ANR have been working hand-in-hand for months to organize the 1st competition, set up the mission scenarios and the evaluation protocols. A fine example of collaboration! We’ve asked them few questions about the June competition.

The 1st competition was held one month ago in Lacq, what were your assignments during those five intensive days?

Kris - My main responsibilities involved carrying out the initial homologation/static tests. During the mission scenarios I was the “UMAD observer”. My final responsibility was to referee the endurance test where we used a race format.

Loïc - The ANR team was in charge of making sure that the protocols for evaluating the teams were adhered to, from keeping to the agenda to complying with measurement methods.The main difficulty was therefore making a pertinent choice in terms of evaluation protocols before the competition, in order to obtain the most discriminatory results possible.

Did your assignments require a good coordination between one another?   

Loïc -  Yes, sharing out tasks was crucial to ensuring that all the necessary observations were covered.

Kris - My work required a very high level of coordination with Loïc who was present inside the operator remote control cabin whereas I was outside on the competition site (UMAD).

Loïc - We set our sights high for this first competition, so we had a very full schedule. Our coordination worked perfectly and enabled us to carry out all the measurements we had planned.

What aspects were you particularly attentive to?

Kris - As the outside UMAD observer, during the mission scenarios, I had to pay particular attention to the safety behaviour of the robots, observing the number of contacts between the robots and the structure or equipment. I had to manage the members of each team who were the manual troubleshooters and communicate interventions. I triggered the general platform alarm and also introduced unknown obstacles into the competition site in certain mission scenarios.

Loïc - I, well in fact we, were particularly attentive to the most systematic reproduction of the evaluation protocols. In a competition, as for a scientific experiment, it is crucial to make sure that the results are not biased. By backing this effort, we made sure that the results obtained enabled us to compare the performance of the different teams in identical, fair conditions, according to the preselected criteria for the competition.

What was the atmosphere like on the competition site (UMAD)?

Loïc - Everyone was extremely focused, but all the teams had a really positive approach: some of them encountered a series of difficulties and others took the surprises they had in their stride. 

Kris - I think some teams were more stressed than others because of the competition environment and only have 2 hour windows to complete their mission scenarios.  They always knew they were being watched and with a stopwatch in front of them! 

Loïc - Yes, It wasn't always easy for them. The robots are in the early stages of development and the teams had to cope with the frustration of operating high-tech equipment that, at the worst possible moment, decided to have a mind of its own, in full sun at 30°C!

Kris - Exactly. Using a race format for the final 2 hour endurance test was a fun way to end the week. 

Did you have any stressful times during the competition?

Kris - On the Wednesday with the hot weather, realizing I had no sun cream and was about to spend 10 hours outside on the UMAD!

Loïc - For me, it was when we were preparing things at the beginning of the week, when we realized that we had missed something, or that we hadn't controlled a given aspect upstream. There's always a little spanner in the works somewhere that has to be dealt with too, but that's part of the beauty of this type of challenge!

Your best souvenir?

Loïc - The fact that the teams came to thank me even after they had been under pressure for two hours of assignments in an overheated prefab!

Kris - My best souvenir was at the dinner on the Thursday night.  The teams had prepared a surprise homologation test for me to pass to allow me to get married the week after! Each team set me a different task and all teams gave me a small present.  I received a “His and Hers” robot set which actually ended up on my wedding cheese cake!  The thought that went into it from each team was unbelievable and I was very touched.

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    Loïc with Jean-Paul Monet (member of the jury) in front of the control room

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    Kris observing the AIR-K robot during a mission scenario

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    Kris and Loïc debreifing between two tasks

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    Loïc taking notes in the control room during one of VIKINGS mission task

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    Kris checking that everything is ready before each mission scenario

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