This last season has been a challenging year for all Vex teams. Nonetheless, we should look out for the future and what it holds. Covid-19 has been detrimental to VAIC's pilot year. Teams that had registered haven't been able to meet up as they could have in previous years. Still, that doesn't mean we haven't found ways around that.
In working with the new Jetson Nano-based system, we found many things we liked. The GPS sensors give reliable feedback to where the robot is on the field at any moment. The vision system even returns data on the exact coordinates and distance of a ball or goal.
We also found some issues. These issues lie not with the sensors we have but, with the ones we don't. As I take it, the point of VAIC is to build two robots that perform autonomously for two minutes. Unfortunately, the sensors provided aren't enough for the task of navigating a field with two other robots. Detecting other robots can be achieved with a distance sensor. This approach is simple, but it does not offer enough detail and information to be sufficient.
Vex AI teams need a way of seeing what is around them. We need a way to get information about the dynamic condition of the field. Getting data on what is around the robot is crucial to deciding how to move. Without this system, we can't advance our learning to where we want.
I'm not sure what is in the interest of Vex to allow 3rd party electronics. But for one, I enjoy going from the ground up and doing the things we usually don't get to do in VRC. I bring up 3rd party electronics because they form a wide range of possibilities for obstacle detection. I hear, saying this from rumors and speculations, that Vex will not allow 3rd party sensors next year. If true, that would mean there is little to offer for my problem. On the other hand, if it is possible to release such a sensor, that would be terrific.
To wrap this up, VAIC has tons of potential. Never have I seen a competition so easy to get into while also having plenty to learn. We simply need a way to see around. I look forward to seeing what comes next in future years.
This is a personal opinion