Working Remotely and Still Having Fun!

Imagine the scene…. a starting line of remote control cars all with Star Wars-themed Ooshie figurines at the helm, a complex racecourse ahead of them and not a person to be seen. Such was the setup of our recently held internal staff catch up.

Due to COVID restrictions we were unable to meet in person for our annual internal conference, however we wanted to create an interactive and team building experience, something different that connected the team that would also still be a bit of fun.

I therefore created the Laminar-X Race contest for our staff.  The idea was simple enough, our staff had to pilot their rover that was set up in the office, while they were sitting at home (or overseas in one case)!  All they could see was what their rover could see.  To make it more exciting they had to race around a course we constructed in our warehouse, which we’d built using items we had laying about, cardboard boxes, witches hats and even safety tape to guide the racers. 

The Cars 

After a bit of research I settled on a RaspberryPi mini computer solution from Sunfounder.  I could write another whole blog about it, but in simple terms they are an introductory computer board designed to teach you computer skills.  This meant we had everything we needed: the computer, Wi-Fi, camera, motors and mountings etc. to make it all work.

The cars ran NOOBS OS – an easy operating system installer with some Python scripts to allow us to control the car via a web browser.

Being all geeks at Laminar, Star Wars was always an easy theme to hit on, so thanks to the recent Woolworths Ooshie campaign we had 3-CPO, a StormTrooper, Darth Vader and R2D2 pilot the cars and the Laminar-X race was created.

How it all Worked 

The user connected to our office via a secure connection (VPN) over the internet. The car was connected to the office Wi-Fi. Once both were connected, the user was able open a webpage running on the car. The user was then able to control the car via the W, A, S, D keys and the camera via up, down, left, right.

So that everyone could be involved we also had a camera showing the course and events streaming to the internet.Some of our team members participating in the event.

In the end, Jack Kepper proved victorious taking home a small prize (and all the pride!)

- By Michael Adamson