Day 2: Driver Tryouts

At Robocup Hefei (quite the venue–scope the scale below!) there are two testing days for the teams. Team RKRS set up the robot and then it was time for driver tryouts. Each student had the chance to drive the robot through a maze of chairs to see how they would do. The final four driver candidates test their skills actually driving the robot on the course. Other team members become the spotters watching the robot to see how well the drivers do. Final driver selected:  Megan H.! Day 3 the competition starts!

RoboCup Hefei 2015 Venue

Vidal driving the robot

Glenna driving the robot

Team RKRS spotters




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Sites, Bites and Set Up for the Red Knights

Team RKRS started their second day in Hefei sightseeing at Hongzhang Li’s house. Hongzhang was a prime minister of the Qing dynasty (1871 – 1895).

Hongzhang 3

Hongzhang 1 Hongzhang 2

And, they explored another restaurant for fried rice and noodles!

Fried rice and noodles 1

Fried rice and noodles 4

Fried rice and noodles 2 Fried rice and noodles 3

Time to suit up and head for RoboCup Hefei 2015! Commanding a wide path, Team RKRS caught the attention of Hefei locals as they rolled the robot cases to the venue.

Team RKRS RoboCup Hefei 2015

Heading to the venue RoboCup Hefei

Catching local attention RoboCup Hefei

Once there, it was time to assemble the robot and prep for the RoboCup Hefei 2015 competition.

RoboCup Hefei 2015Having fun in HefeiAssembling the robot HefeiConnecting the pieces RoboCup HefeiRobot building time HefeiPutting the robot together RoboCup Hefei



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A Bit More Detail

If you’ve read the previous blog posts, you know the major part of night one for Team RKRs was bus travel. Arriving in Shanghai at 6:00 p.m. on the 15th we made it to the hotel about 7:00 a.m. on the 16th.Passports scanned at the front desk, we checked in and everyone headed to their rooms.

The hotel facility, rooms and showers are nice although signs on the sinks say, “Not suitable for drinking” (important activity identified: find bottled water). They’re also air-conditioned—a good thing (as the hallways, elevator and lobby are not). 

Note to Team RKRS Alum: The Greek Team, Austrian Team and Hector Darmstadt Team are at staying at this hotel. They send their greetings!

Naps and showers taken, the next thing on the agenda–food. Breakfast is included at the hotel. It’s a mixture of East and West offerings which include a wide variety of food including sausages, tomatoes, conjee, noodles, pickles and tea eggs. After enjoying breakfast, we took a small break and then met in the lobby at 11:00 a.m.

It’s raining in Hefei. And, apparently it will be raining the entire time we’re here. Out to locate noodle shops and restaurants and local grocery store, the team discovered 24-pack of water can be purchased right outside the hotel door. Finding umbrellas, a particular favorite is now Mr. Jump’s, (grayish-pink with pink hearts all over it).

Ms. Lee and Mr. Jump went to scope the venue. It’s a full city block to the first intersection and then a block over to get into the venue–so close! A really easy walk, (although a soaking walk).

Most of the team met at 6:00 p.m., ate dinner (the pictures in the previous post), discussed plans for navigating the to’s an from’s in the rain and then went to bed.

Tomorrow we meet for breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and then head to the RoboCup – Hefei venue to for set up!

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First Taste of China

Refueling after their long journey to Hefei, Team RKRS enjoyed their first Chinese dinner:

Eating in Hefei First Dinner in Hefei Hefei dinner

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The Surprise

International travel is an adventure. There are always surprises. They’re part of the fun when you’re in a completely different country and culture, right?

First things first. The air travel went well. In fact, when we arrived in Seattle we were told the flight to Shanghai was wide open. Sweet news to any veteran traveler!

Novice traveler translation:  The first to grab the five open seats in the middle of the plane gets to sleep horizontally instead of vertically on an open flight–a very good thing.

The bus travel, well…

Shanghai to Hefei is a journey of about 250  miles (407 kilometers). That being said, we thought the bus ride would take somewhere around five hours to travel the distance. (This would be where a veteran traveler would insert the comment, “You’re thinking too much like a Westerner–be prepared to be flexible.”)

As we journeyed, we discovered China has a few rules about bus travel:

  • Buses may travel 60 mph  until 10:00 pm.
  • After 10:00 pm, buses have to travel 40 mph.
  • There’s a law in China stating buses may not drive between 2:00 am and 5:00 am.
  • Buses must pull off to the side of the road if they’re mid-journey between above said hours.

Twelve hours later…

Surprise! That five hour expectation turned into a 12 hour event. Yes, we happened to be traveling in the wee hours of the morning. Team RKRS was a jet-lagged, weary and captive audience in a bus on the side of the road in China for three hours, (becoming Popsicles as the driver cranked the air-conditioning and hot as he made adjustments).

All part of the fun when you’re in a completely different country and culture. Or, so we will tell ourselves when we share the stories of this trip in the years to come.

P.S. Given the surprise, we’ve changed the return trip plans. Parents, FYI: We’ll leave Hefei on July 23 and head to Suzhou. Spending two nights in Suzhou, we’ll leave from there (normally a two hour bus ride) to get to Shanghai in time for the return flight home.

(Update as of 11:00 am, July 16, 2015 – Hefei/10:00 pm, July 15, 2015 – Minneapolis.)

A bus traveling in China (not our bus)


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Arrived Safely

News from Mr. Jump (via Nick) at 2:29am Shanghai time (1:29pm Minneapolis time):

Here in China 3 hour plane ride 12 hour plane ride and now a 12 hour bus ride in process to get us to hotel in Hefei. 5 hours plus to go!

Arrived safely

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And It Begins!

Following in the footsteps of the Benilde-St. Margaret’s Team RKRS alum, the 2015 team gathers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport to start the journey to China. First thing first: count heads and cases. Second: troop up to U.S. Customs to have the ATA Carnet reviewed and approved.

Carnets facilitate temporary imports into foreign countries and re-importation into the U.S. By presenting an ATA Carnet document to foreign customs, you pass duty free and import tax free into a carnet country for up to one year.

Then farwell’s said, Team RKRS is on their way!

Team RKRS gathering at the MSP Airport


More students and parents arrive.

Sharing info while awaiting all team arrivals.

Getting excited to take the first steps toward China!

Settling in awaiting stragglers.

What it takes to transport a robot--and its batteries (the yellow box).

Some of the people power behind the robot.

Final updates before heading to US Customs for the carnet check.

Delta ground crews, here comes Team RKRS!

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