Well that was unexpected.
The AWS Summits are a series of free conferences held all over the world, but more importantly they’re also where you can go to physically race an AWS DeepRacer car and earn yourself a place in the grand final in Las Vegas later in the year.
While not as technically oriented as re:Invent the summit is still usually and good day but this year it was all about the DeepRacer league. TonyJ and I had been working on our models and mine was now doing a fairly respectable time of around 17 seconds in the simulator (a huge improvement on Rick’s re:Invent winning time of 51 seconds!) which I hoped might be good enough for maybe a top 30 finish.
TonyJ and myself rocked up to the summit a little late and after queuing for a while managed to gain entry and immediately went to check out the racing.
Two tracks had been set up and there was already a queue of racers. At this stage we assumed that people would be limited to one run each so we decided not to race yet as we had plans to attend the DeepRacer workshop around mid-day.
During the workshop we learned one important fact: we could race as many times as we wanted.
So we immediately run back downstairs and get in the queue. It’s nearly 2pm but our first runs present the first surprise of the day… we’re both competitive. I manage to set a time of 11.036 on my first run which gives me provisional second place behind Lyndon Leggate, however I’m quickly demoted to 3rd by Raul, and then 4th by TonyJ.
At this point think we can do better so we hunt down some wifi and kick off another hour of training on our models while the DeepRacer TV crew does some interviews with us.
Then it’s back in the queue for run #2 and I manage to improve with a 9.447. Not enough to take the lead from Raul but enough to give me second place just ahead of TonyJ.
I really want another run as I felt that my cars battery wasn’t fully charged but it’s now approaching 5pm and they have decided to close the track after the last 5 or so of us have our runs. The queue at this point is TonyJ, Lyndon, Tomasz, myself and one or two others. Raul hasn’t come back for a final run, hoping his 9.016 is enough to retain his lead. Only a single track is now operating with everyone watching the racing. The pressure is intense.
Tony goes first and doesn’t manage to improve his time and remains third. I’m the second-last competitor of the day and my model feels great, nice and stable so I keep pushing up the max-throttle a little more each lap to try to find the limit.
I hear the announcer calling out the times and still falling just short of Raul’s time by literally hundreds of a second but can’t quite get there.
Then I hear it. “You’re going to like this one…. 8.917 seconds!”
People are cheering, my heart is racing and I can’t believe we’ve actually won it!
While I’m being interviewed (again) by the DeepRacer TV crew Tomasz takes his last run of the day and manages to pip Tony for 3rd place in a bittersweet moment but at least we hang on to first place and I am crowned UK DeepRacer champion for 2019!
After that everything gets a bit blurry. What I do know is that the winners trophy (which is bigger than Rick’s 2018 grand champion cup!) is not water-tight as we discovered after someone filled it full of champagne at the after-party.
It was also really great to connect with some of the other AWS DeepRacer users in London, especially Lyndon and Tomasz. Great things are afoot.
Check out the awesome DeepRacer TV Episode for a full recap of this event!
Now preparation begins as both Rick and I will be competing at re:Invent in Las Vegas in December.