PROJECT ARGOS: CATASTROPHIC FAILURE
With the SWAE team safely on the road from Vegas to Scottsdale on Day 1 of the goldRush rally. It's time to reflect. SWAE worked with Boston Dynamics to redesign their Spot robot dog to lock up with the design of the rally car. Known as Project ARGOS, the design and build of both the dog and car proved to be more challenging than anyone expected. At times it was uncertain if either would be finished in time.
Installation of a completely new, large-format 3D printer had to be hand-assembled from scratch. Then, the Ferrari FF Coupe had to be picked up, driven back from two states away, and completely revamped. As the SWAE crew scrambled together manpower and man-hours, the team knew it would be cutting it close with late-night "sanding parties" to help prep the freshly printed 3D Spot parts. It became apparent that the in-house 3D printers would struggle to complete the sheer volume of pieces SWAE needed for ARGOS, so Trevin set out to call other 3D printer manufacturers across the country. The pieces would then be shipped in hopes that they would be delivered on time. The palpable tension was rising into the final weekend pre-rally, and what would happen next would constitute an all-time low.
Catastrophe. You’re never ready for it when it hits, no matter how much you prepare mentally. The weekend before goldRush, SWAE experienced just such a workplace crisis. After many evenings spent by half a dozen members of the SWAE crew sanding and painting the pieces for the dog, it was time to test this machine. With anticipation high, and a lack of sleep setting deep into sunken eyes, the members of SWAE looked on as SPOT came to life, dawning his new ARGOS armor.
The ARGOS dog sat up. The team breathed a sigh of relief as there had been doubt cast regarding SPOTS' ability to stand with the added weight. The next question was whether or not he could move. The first few steps were a success, but a whining began to ache from the dog. Then, much like a real dog upset with whatever outfit had been forced on it by its owner, ARGOS began to twitch and shudder. Finally, with an exasperated moan, it thrashed one last time, violently letting out a large crack that echoed throughout the shop.
A pin drop could be heard as the dog lay silently on its side. The entire staff had stopped their work for what was supposed to be a triumph but had quickly turned to tragedy. The dog's armor had broken. With hours before the start of the goldRush rally, hopelessness had set in as Trevin set to fervent pacing. Then, as one brother had already begun to calculate damage control on phone calls to goldRush representatives to tell them the robotic wonder dog would not be accompanying the SWAE crew, gears of another kind began to turn in the other brother's head.
Colton Hermosillo picked the dog up, took the pieces off, and with a healthy determination declared, "I can fix this." He began by sanding away the problem areas that had caused the break in the first place. After a few more hours and a tub of Bondo, the dog's armor was beginning to take form once again. Colton worked diligently into the night with other members stepping in to take on work for SERPENS finishing touches. The task was almost done, but the night was late, so the team hung up their work coats for the night, agreeing to return as soon as possible the following day.
The next day Colton got back to work repairing the dog's broken armor. He sanded some more, applied more bondo, and repainted the previously fractured pieces. Finally, by mid-day, the team came together again for a second test. Just as Iron Man nearly blew himself up on the first test of his new suit and flew into the skies on his second attempt, ARGOS jumped around the shop with glee. High fives and hugs were shared. They had cut it close, but the dream of seeing ARGOS take to the starting grid for goldRush was finally becoming a reality.