Team Robo Monster™

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Past the 'Drive by Wire' Hump...

Well, it's three days before the DARPA March 11th deadline for part 3 (technical description of vehicle plus video of vehicle) and we've done it. Last week we got drive-by wire for steering and throttle on Robo Monster, with brakes ready. We shot a video showing the 'Monster going over 4-foot obstacles while being steered by remote control - fun! We also sent in our part 3 document describing what we intend to do with Robo Monster.

The only thing missing was the transmission - the current vehicle has a manual transmission, and an automatic transmission will be purchased during the next week or so. Until then, we can't install a linear actuator to put the vehicle into full drive-by-wire.

We've decided to use standard R/C control for remote-control driving as we develop our autonomous system. The reason is that there is a fairly simple circuit for switching between our Roboteq motor controllers and an R/C control. We could do wi-fi, but looking at the structure of Roboteq-computer communication convinced us that it would be a detour.

Currently testing sensors using microcontroller boards from BasicX and Micro Basic. We plant to put lots of "point sensors" all over the vehicle and read them with standard hobby microcontrollers and software. Our vehicle will be more "tactile" than others, though we will put in a high-res visual system later.

For now, our current efforts are to build a GPS waypoint following into Robo Monster. We have a good, if tiny GPS/DGPS that we're using for testing. Currently deciding if we want an intermediate controller (e.g. acroname brainstem) between the PCs and the motor/servo controllers.


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