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PsiMatt
04-04-2003, 11:30 PM
Hello all you FIRSTers!

DARPA intends to conduct a challenge of autonomous ground vehicles (robots) between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in March of 2004. A cash award of $1 million will be granted to the team that fields the first vehicle to complete the designated route within a specified time limit. The purpose of the challenge is to leverage American ingenuity to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technologies that can be applied to military requirements. Many of the details of the event are being developed, and new information will be posted to their web site as soon as possible.

The website is: http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge

I am currently building a FIRST Coalition team from all those that may be interested to tackle this challenge, so if any of you are interested, please respond to this thread or email me at ILSDirector@aol.com. Remember...$1 million + Fame + Multi-million dollar contracts + Fun robot competition building and competition experience!

Tyler 178
04-04-2003, 11:56 PM
I've looked at the competition and it looks pretty cool.

They say that the course is travelable by a regular chevy pickup, so our robot doesn't have to be insanely armored, and it shouldn't be impossible. Also, it's all autonomous, and even if your bot refuels itself it has to do it autonomously.

Sounds cool though, smart to get a team going of firsters.

Good luck!

sanddrag
04-05-2003, 12:37 AM
A GPS controlled airplane might work. Hey, this thing gives me an idea for next years competition. The robots have to drive them selves to nationals and whatver ones get there can compete in the nationals which would be the challenge of driving back.

PsiMatt
04-05-2003, 01:04 AM
Unfortunately, this is a competition involving autonomous ground vehicles so the GPS airplane won't work. O...If any of you are at the SoCal Regional, come to the station for team 1135 if you want more information.

sanddrag
04-05-2003, 10:11 AM
Originally posted by PsiMatt
O...If any of you are at the SoCal Regional, come to the station for team 1135 if you want more information. I'll stop by.

Jnadke
04-05-2003, 10:05 PM
I think you guys are underestimating the reality of this challenge.


Firstly, these courses are similar to something you'd see in professional dune buggy competition. Obviously, whatever you build is going to need to last. Even more-so than a FIRST robot. Simply, take the most robust FIRST robot you've seen and multiply it by 100.

Secondly, This is a challenge that is greater than 250 miles. They're expecting 250 miles alone in a desert course. A typical car can only do 300 miles. Obviously you're going to either need a very efficient engine, or you're going to need a very efficient solar/electrical vehicle. You must also keep in mind that the time limit is 10 hours. That's 30 miles per hour, even in the desert.

The programming and electrical engineering challenge of this task is astronomical. You need to design, build, and coordinate a guidance system of great proportions that can accurately depict hazards and correct its course. This fact alone would take someone with a PhD in either (or both) of these fields. GPS is accurate, but not that accurate. Let's just say it's the difference between being on the road and driving off a cliff, so you can't rely strictly on that.


Needless to say, in the process of building the vehicle, major breakthroughs will most likely need to occur or will hapen not only in the programming aspects, but in the design itself. This is no easy challenge like FIRST. FIRST is a cakewalk compared to this. I don't mean to be rude, but you simply won't have the resources to complete a task like this. If you manage to go 10 miles in this competition, I myself will give you $1000.

For people thinking of critisizing me, don't. Think, you only have a year to do this. Building a machine as complex of this is a large undertaking. There's simply too much to learn before you can even begin to think about designing something like this. You have to learn Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Physics, and Computer Science in less than a year. You have to explore all the possibilities. You're better off designing stuff and waiting until the year after to do anything as massive as this. They said they'll do the competition until 2007.

Madison
04-05-2003, 10:29 PM
After briefly glancing at the rules, it seems to me that you'd want to retrofit an existing vehicle to complete this challenge. They say that it's a course that could be accomodated by any commercial four wheel drive vehicle, so I'd start by acquiring one of those. Convert it to a gasoline/electric hybrid and throw in oodles of solar cells.

Install an onboard computer system that is capable of controlling the trucks acceleration, braking, and steering. Also interface it with the vehicles existing sensors so that mechanical problems can be detected.

For navigation, I'd expect that you'd need two-levels of systems to accomplish this task. The first, larger level would be global positioning system based and would be used to locate the vehicle in the most general sense. If the course is provided in advance, program the system to proceed through a series of waypoints along the route. If the course isn't provided in advance, or if only their waypoints are provided with no information about road conditions, turns, etc., it's much harder.
The second level of navigation would have to be used for local navigation. That is, you'd need a battery of sensors (maybe ground radar) that could detect and map out the surrounding terrain. The onboard computer would then need to extrapolate a route from that data based on where it is and where it needs to go, and then decide a way after accounting for ease to cross certain terrain versus time to cross other terrain.

Anyway, that's where I'd start. It's definitely not an easy undertaking and would require quite a bit of capital. But, if I were given the chance, I'd give it a shot.

sanddrag
04-05-2003, 10:42 PM
In response to Jnadke above, I completely disagree. Sure it is great to be realistic, which you might be, but let us just have a chance. It gets us excited anyhow. There is nothing bad that can come from entering a competition which celebrates science and technology. Have we forgotten the meaning of FIRST? It is not about winning or losing, it is about what you learn in the experience and the good times you have while doing it. So what if the kids' car goes 50 feet? What's it to you? I bet from that project that made the 50 foot run they will learn something much more valuable than the winner would ever have learned. We all have dreams okay. It does no good for you or anyone else to inhibit them. So just let us race to Vegas alright?

And if you insist on talking about the compeition side of things, just look at our robot. We made it to the final match and gave Kingman a run for their money - they even say so. We even won the KISS award from Archer. Our robot was completely student designed and built except for 4 welds and 2 simple CNC parts. And, in Phoenix, we got 3rd seed, semifinalists, and we killed our oponents.

Now, for this DARPA compeition, so what if it takes a pro dune buggy? They are actually quite simple. I'm sure any group of veteran FIRSTers would have no trouble building one. Or what about a truck? Trucks are so simple - especially old ones. All it would take is a little money and a little inginuity. And professional help is not as hard to find as you may think. It is definitely do-able.

Cory
04-05-2003, 10:47 PM
I think this is going to turn into that thing where you have to construct a passenger vehicle to enter space. people will spend millions of dollars trying to develop the vehicle for the million dollar prize. I do agree that it would be very cool to try given the money to do so.

Cory

PsiMatt
04-05-2003, 11:05 PM
Many times in the past, those experienced in a field have declared that something was impossible, only to have someone without those preconceptions do the impossible. What I'm asking is for a team of FIRSTers to look at this problem from their viewpoints, which may be different and/or contain different preconceptions from the typical industry person. :yikes: I don't think that should come as much of a surprise, really, but remember that the motto of FIRST is "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." Its mission is to inspire others to excellence and innovation, and participating in this project would be in accordance with the ideals of FIRST.

As for funding and such, our individual teams have been able to acquire sponsors for our comparatively small competition, and I see no reason why we cannot have sponsors and professional help on this project. No one ever said that the Grand Challenge would be easy (would it be called the "Grand Challenge" if it were?), but it is a chance to take what we have learned from FIRST and apply it to real life, to affect change in the greater world, and perhaps learn more than could have ever hoped to learn. And if it doesn't work out, we will have learned, and we shall try again, as we in FIRST do time and again. When we face a challenge, the point is not to immediately look at the scale of the challenge and declare that it is impossible to succeed. The point is to try, to learn, to innovate, but not to give up without even an effort, for if we do not attempt a challenge, who will ever know what may have been?

matt111
04-06-2003, 04:55 PM
if i remember correctly someone alreday posted about this. this contest is pretty big though, i remember reading anbout it in MIT's technology magazine. That is way to complicated for me, but good luck to those who try.

Vincent Chan
04-06-2003, 10:53 PM
Jnadke, you'll give us a grand if we can make it 10 miles? If you can put your money where your mouth is, I'll tell my team that. (It certainly would help with the cost of building something like this.)

10 miles isn't a very long distance... I've run further than that.

The DARPA Grand Challenge looks like a difficult but fun project to work on. *nod* I mean, you've got to look at it in the same way rookies look at FIRST. You say "Oh God, that looks hard... I think I can... I think I can... I think I-- HEY! It works?!"

sanddrag
04-06-2003, 11:41 PM
Someone was talking about using Skyway wheels for their DARPA project link (https://dtsn.darpa.mil/grandc/forum/topic.asp?topic_id=273&forum_id=15&Topic_Title=Tires%3F&forum_title=Mechanical&M=False&S=):D

sanddrag
04-06-2003, 11:49 PM
Check this out. (http://www.neweramodels.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?session_id=mxhvndnwuhgwscfkfscqodlwhyeeqp fb&part_id=521&photo_id=444) The size of the small truck's tires in the pic is 6 in di by 4 in wide to get an idea for size.
And what about this (http://www.neweramodels.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?session_id=mxhvndnwuhgwscfkfscqodlwhyeeqp fb&part_id=602) You can get it with a 72 cc engine and it can do 40+ mph.

The hardest part of this project is the obstacle avoidance. The rest is just dirty work.

Madison
04-07-2003, 12:03 AM
Originally posted by sanddrag

Check this out. (http://www.neweramodels.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?session_id=mxhvndnwuhgwscfkfscqodlwhyeeqp fb&part_id=521&photo_id=444) The size of the small truck's tires in the pic is 6 in di by 4 in wide to get an idea for size.
And what about this (http://www.neweramodels.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?session_id=mxhvndnwuhgwscfkfscqodlwhyeeqp fb&part_id=602) You can get it with a 72 cc engine and it can do 40+ mph.

The hardest part of this project is the obstacle avoidance. The rest is just dirty work.

...dirty work including devising a way to get enough fuel on board to make the entire trip.

PsiMatt
04-07-2003, 01:00 AM
Well, there is an alternative to carrying all the fuel on the 'bot. If we can manage it, we are allowed by the rules to have autonomous refueling, though I would imagine that it would be substantially more difficult to manage that as well...

tenfour
04-07-2003, 02:14 PM
Why is fuel an issue. Just mount more tanks on the rover. Make it real nice.

Seriously, the real challenge here is not mechanical. I think that we could easily get the controls mounted and designed. We could also easily mount the sensors. The difficult part is in the programming. We need to find a few "cracker-jack" programmers that can program a concrete block.

tenfour
04-07-2003, 02:17 PM
I think that if this is to be done, a group of the willing has to be assembled quickly to accomplish (or at least explore accomplishing) the goal. There are robotics teams that have the resources (if combined) to at least attempt this challenge.

Just remember. This rover has to go for longer than 15 sec. and it has to do it. You can't just race for the controls.

rachakate
04-07-2003, 02:25 PM
The thing that bothers me about this competition is that it's for the military.

I much prefer being a geek for geek's sake.

Madison
04-07-2003, 02:50 PM
Originally posted by tenfour
Why is fuel an issue. Just mount more tanks on the rover. Make it real nice.

Seriously, the real challenge here is not mechanical. I think that we could easily get the controls mounted and designed. We could also easily mount the sensors. The difficult part is in the programming. We need to find a few "cracker-jack" programmers that can program a concrete block.

Unfortunately, it may not necessarily be as simple as increasing the amount of fuel, though that it the most obvious solution.

To do things efficiently, it's a matter of balancing fuel economy with fuel consumption. You could use one of those small RC Gas engines, but their consider how much fuel you'd have to carry on board to make the entire trip. I doubt that engine is capable of moving the weight of the necessary fuel over that distance, nevermind everything else.

Also, keeping something from breaking itself while operating in harsh conditions over ten hours is a mechanical issue. It's not a cake walk for the design of the vehicle itself, either.

sanddrag
04-07-2003, 03:04 PM
Originally posted by M. Krass
Unfortunately, it may not necessarily be as simple as increasing the amount of fuel, though that it the most obvious solution.

To do things efficiently, it's a matter of balancing fuel economy with fuel consumption. You could use one of those small RC Gas engines, but their consider how much fuel you'd have to carry on board to make the entire trip. I doubt that engine is capable of moving the weight of the necessary fuel over that distance, nevermind everything else.

Also, keeping something from breaking itself while operating in harsh conditions over ten hours is a mechanical issue. It's not a cake walk for the design of the vehicle itself, either. An RC engine is capable of propelling an RC at those speeds but not much else. If you are talking about RC Nitro engines nitro fuel is very expensive at about $20 per gallon.

I think the ideal vehicle for this project would be a 1970's Bronco, a K5 Blazer, a 1980's Ford F-250 4x4, or a Jeep Cherokee 4x4. There is one problem I just thought of. The eaisiest way would be to have an automatic tranny however most trucks and SUV's with auto have column shifters.

But, the Jeep Cherokee has a nice center console sliding shifter just like a car. I think this would be the ideal budget vehicle. It is solid axle 4x4, auto, and has a 4.0 I 6. Not to mention it is very easy to work on. Many suspension performance enhancing aftermarket parts are readily available. You could even use a newer one with a car computer to monitor engine systems.

Perhaps even a diesel engine for increased reliability.

PsiMatt
04-09-2003, 02:25 AM
Remember all that we might be able to find some components for elements of our design already on the market. As we do in FIRST, lets make this project worthy of the Creativity Award, reusing some common parts for uncommon purposes. A Jeep Cherokee 4x4 would probably work as an outer vehicle for our modified components and guidance system, which as M. Krass said, should probably be a combination of global and local (GPS and Radar, perhaps).. :yikes:

Remember, PM me to confirm your team's interest in this competition, so i can get in the entry form soon. Thanks

Redhead Jokes
04-09-2003, 01:50 PM
Our Northrop Robotics Engineer Rick Wagner wants to participate in your coalition.

I think I have an extremely talented alumni of our FIRST team who wants to participate.

Our other mentors hesitate cuz of too busy with FIRST stuff.

Haven't heard back from our students.

I'll help with fundraising and publicity.

Adam Y.
04-09-2003, 02:23 PM
Someone was talking about using Skyway wheels for their DARPA project
Really really really really really really really really really really really big mistake. If they can not even handle usage on our robot without tearing apart in the first practicew round then they shouldn't run in a dessert.

Vincent Chan
04-09-2003, 11:04 PM
A few of us over here on 1127 are interested in pursuing the project. I can't speak for them all, though, when I say I'd be interested in working with you guys if I can somehow do anything. I live all the way over on the east coast...

Maybe we ought to start an east coast coalition?

Amber H.
04-10-2003, 01:43 PM
Originally posted by tenfour
Why is fuel an issue. Just mount more tanks on the rover. Make it real nice.


My father, who is (now retired) a mechanic/fabricator/inventor, installed second/additional gas tanks on several of our family vehicles over the years. When the first tank ran out, all you had to do was flip a switch he had installed on the dashboard to start using the second tank. Most times, he hid it so well, that we were totally unaware that he had added the second tank until he would reach over and flip a switch as the gas gage read "Empty".

Much to my mother's woe, he modified just about every car we ever had. He even installed a drinking fountain, and windshield washing water-jets in the dashboard of a truck one day, just 'cause he felt like it!.
Without fail, every time we got a new car, out came the blow torch. My mother would yell at him to put it away!
(He is not allowed to touch her Ford Windstar unless it is to wash the windows).

Mechanical changes aren't too hard if you find the right (crazy) inventor/mechanic.

Of course you must understand what my father really is to understand where I'mcoming from.

He's just like Dean Kamen. He's an eccentric, inventive genius. He's even the same height, build, and coloring, except that he has blue eyes and straight hair. He even wears the same denim uniform day in and day out.

Now, add fifteen to twenty years on to that, and instead of a gentle, kindly, patient nature, substute a grouchy old fart with a bad temper (If you tell him that to his face, he takes it as a compliment!). Then instead of an attitude that the world can be made a better place with the proper application of technology, imagine a guy who thinks the world can be made a better place with the proper application of explosives. Then you have my father.
The curmudgeonly pessimistic version of Dean Kamen.

Somebody rescue me please!!!!!!!!!!

KenWittlief
04-10-2003, 03:45 PM
GPS is now accurate to within a few feet

Im willing to bet you could win this challenge with an automatic tranny jeep, an extra fuel tank

and the stuff that came in the FIRST kit of parts

it would be easy to use the smaller motors in the kit to servo the gas, brakes, steering, shifter on an automatic jeep

all you need to add is a GPS unit, plot your course

and figure out what to do with the $1M prize

obstical avoidance? not required - padded bumpers

cant tell you how many times our bot slammed the wall, railing, operators station during testing and matches - the trick is you have to bounce back far enough to get a good running start again

:c)

Kevin Watson
04-10-2003, 08:35 PM
Originally posted by KenWittlief
...all you need to add is a GPS unit, plot your course...

What if you're on a curvy road and the waypoints you've been given are a couple of kilometers apart <grin>.

The real solution is very close to what M. Krass described toward the top of this thread (Team Caltech is using this very approach, BTW). This is very much a software problem.

-Kevin

Jnadke
04-10-2003, 09:38 PM
Originally posted by KenWittlief
GPS is now accurate to within a few feet

Im willing to bet you could win this challenge with an automatic tranny jeep, an extra fuel tank

and the stuff that came in the FIRST kit of parts

it would be easy to use the smaller motors in the kit to servo the gas, brakes, steering, shifter on an automatic jeep

all you need to add is a GPS unit, plot your course

and figure out what to do with the $1M prize

obstical avoidance? not required - padded bumpers

cant tell you how many times our bot slammed the wall, railing, operators station during testing and matches - the trick is you have to bounce back far enough to get a good running start again

:c)


A few feet can mean the difference between being on the cliff and being off the edge of the cliff.... how about we add a human element and put you in that jeep? Not so sure now, are we?


Here's a few things to consider for those who are still serious (my post was bring out the reality and see if you really were intent on doing this):

1. The raw distance between Las Vegas and Las Angeles is 400 miles. This distance could be longer depending on the course. Most SUV's only average 20 mpg, so you'd need lots of fuel.

2. This distance has to be covered in 10 hours, including refill time. The vehicle is going to have to be travelling at 30-40 MPH on average.

3. Vehicles built for off-road are key. Anything that competes is going to have to be built to last. 250 miles of off-roading is not good for an open gearbox (like most FIRST robots). Large vehicles (such as a Jeep/SUV) have a disadvantage on curvy roads where they may need to traverse it slower than smaller, wider vehicles.


Just a few ideas... Obviously whatever system is used will probabaly look much like a dune buggy. A small, lightweight vehicle that has a wide wheelbase so that it can turn through tight corners. You'll want large tires and a suspension. Fuel economy is key. Electric motors won't provide the distance if they're solely powered by batteries. A gas/diesel system would be much more difficult to create, but it would provide a much better energy density for the fuel. Lastly, sensors are a big part. Ultrasonic object detection and avoidance at minimum probabaly. More sophisticated systems would include GPS, topographical course plotting system, or an optical sensing system.




I'm beginning to think it might be easier to break into Columbia/Tristar Studios and steal Johnny Five (Short Circuit).

Tyler 178
04-10-2003, 10:14 PM
Originally posted by Jnadke
1. The raw distance between Las Vegas and Las Angeles is 400 miles. This distance could be longer depending on the course. Most SUV's only average 20 mpg, so you'd need lots of fuel.

2. This distance has to be covered in 10 hours, including refill time. The vehicle is going to have to be travelling at 30-40 MPH on average.

"Q2. How long is the route?

A2. The exact route has not been determined, but the off-road portion will be approximately 250 miles."
(Quoted from the darpa site http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/faq.htm)

This would mean that you would need about 17 gallons of fuel to go 255 miles if you were averaging 15 mpg. But you would probably use 20 gallons just in case. This is not too much gas, considering most car gas tanks are around at least 15 gallons anyway.

I like the johnny five comment by the way. Those were great movies (short circuit, if you haven't seen it, go rent it)

Jnadke
04-10-2003, 11:33 PM
Originally posted by Tyler 178
"Q2. How long is the route?

A2. The exact route has not been determined, but the off-road portion will be approximately 250 miles."
(Quoted from the darpa site http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/faq.htm)

This would mean that you would need about 17 gallons of fuel to go 255 miles if you were averaging 15 mpg. But you would probably use 20 gallons just in case. This is not too much gas, considering most car gas tanks are around at least 15 gallons anyway.

I like the johnny five comment by the way. Those were great movies (short circuit, if you haven't seen it, go rent it)


Keep in mind, however, that the contestants will have to travel from Las Angeles to Las Vegas. A simple trip to MapQuest (http://www.mapquest.com) tells us that the minumum distance for driving is approximately 400 land miles. At 15MPG you'd need 27 gallons of gas. Round that off to an even 30 gallons just for inefficiencies.


If I were competing, I'd probabaly do a dune buggy with a 2-stroke diesel engine. The technology has come a long way and fuel efficiencies for some of these new 2-strokes they've created are pretty large. Diesel has much more energy output for its volume, so it would be preferred, even though it weights 1lb more than gasoline per gallon (6.1lbs/gal for gas).

sanddrag
04-11-2003, 12:29 AM
Originally posted by Jnadke
A few feet can mean the difference between being on the cliff and being off the edge of the cliff.... how about we add a human element and put you in that jeep? Not so sure now, are we?


Here's a few things to consider for those who are still serious (my post was bring out the reality and see if you really were intent on doing this):

1. The raw distance between Las Vegas and Las Angeles is 400 miles. This distance could be longer depending on the course. Most SUV's only average 20 mpg, so you'd need lots of fuel.

2. This distance has to be covered in 10 hours, including refill time. The vehicle is going to have to be travelling at 30-40 MPH on average.

3. Vehicles built for off-road are key. Anything that competes is going to have to be built to last. 250 miles of off-roading is not good for an open gearbox (like most FIRST robots). Large vehicles (such as a Jeep/SUV) have a disadvantage on curvy roads where they may need to traverse it slower than smaller, wider vehicles.


Just a few ideas... Obviously whatever system is used will probabaly look much like a dune buggy. A small, lightweight vehicle that has a wide wheelbase so that it can turn through tight corners. You'll want large tires and a suspension. Fuel economy is key. Electric motors won't provide the distance if they're solely powered by batteries. A gas/diesel system would be much more difficult to create, but it would provide a much better energy density for the fuel. Lastly, sensors are a big part. Ultrasonic object detection and avoidance at minimum probabaly. More sophisticated systems would include GPS, topographical course plotting system, or an optical sensing system.




I'm beginning to think it might be easier to break into Columbia/Tristar Studios and steal Johnny Five (Short Circuit). 1. I'm not sure what SUV you drive but my 99 4x4 Auto Ford Ranger gets 13.4 MPG and my dad's 96 4x4 Auto Cherokee (that he used to have) got 18 MPG at best.

2. You wouldn't refill. Too difficult. Just carry enough fuel to begin with.

3. Agreed.

Last: Dune buggies are only 2wd though and those air cooled VW engines might not make it in the heat. You could go with a custom powertrain. Wheelbase is long, track is wide. Large tires and a beefy suspension are a must. although not at all difficult to implement. I would even argue to have beadlock wheels and perhaps a HUMMER style CTIS system. Electric motors would work when powered by a diesel generator but why? Much more costly and time consuming to build for hardly any benefit. Diesel engines run more reliably that gas ones however you could use a newer gas powered vehicle with a car computer to monitor systems. For sensing and navigation I think a GPS, stereoscopic cameras and a laser scanning system would get the job done.

KenWittlief
04-12-2003, 12:17 AM
I notice how quickly some people think themselves into boxes.

Dune buggies? SUVs?! electric motors?!

this machine doenst need to carry any passengers or cargo - so there is no reason for it to resemble a car or dunebuggy - it doenst need seats, a trunk, windows, headlines...

you could strip a jeep down to its frame and drivetrain, put larger than normal wheels on it, a fuel tank large enough to get you there without refueling

then all you need to do is control the speed and steering.

They will give you the course 2 hours before the event starts. If you WERE doing this in a car or a motorcycle - what is the first thing you would do?

get out the topographical maps and plot your course - see where the natural obsticals are (streams, rivers, cliffs...) and find the best place to cross them

then you would plot out many many GPS waypoints, not just the one or two that you are required to pass through.

I think (after reading the rules) the biggest challenge will be taking advantage of roads when they are present - being able to stay on them and maximize your speed

and, avoiding obsticals in your path, like rocks and logs, and ditches - I dont think that would be too difficult to do. There are many ways to sense objects in your path, and many ways to measure distance to an object.

Sounds like fun. Wish I had enough funding to take a year off from work and do this instead. I think I could pull it off.

PsiMatt
04-17-2003, 12:55 AM
I"m very pleased to see all of the ideas put forth so far. It looks as if the coalition will be a strong one. Please continue to contribute your ideas, because soon, we will need to work out a design and put it into a technical paper for submission to DARPA. Thanks

sanddrag
04-17-2003, 01:03 AM
There is a program at my school that does some work with GPS navigation. The teacher told me that some GPS systems can be off by several meters. Other systems can be accurate to even inches. There is something called differential correcting that gives an additional signal from towers on the ground to get the increased accuracy. I don't know much more about it than that.

BTW, this program at my school is called EAST. I know at least a few schools over the US have the program. The reason I bring it up though is that they got a $200,000 dollar grant for it. (which I am still mad about because robotics is way more deserving).

PsiMatt
04-17-2003, 01:45 AM
if we can get some of the EAST people to help out, that might be very halpful, especially when it comes time to design the navigation system

KenWittlief
04-17-2003, 09:29 AM
GPS use to have a dither added so that commercial users could not get the same accuracy as military users (who have access to a special password)

the dither was taken out a few years ago - so you can now get an inexpensive commercial GPS unit that is accurate to within a foot or two (postition).

They might have turned the dither back on temporarily, due to the war in Iraq - but if they did, it will be turned back off soon, certainly before next march.

due to the fact that they will be putting obsticals in the path, and there will be natural obsticals to avoid (and other vehicles on the course) you can not meet the requirements of this challenge with GPS alone anyway. your machine is going to be able to sense what is around it (somehow).

Eric Reed
04-17-2003, 11:06 AM
GPS hasn't been affected by the war, but the resolution is more like 3 meters, not feet.

Eric.

KenWittlief
04-18-2003, 02:30 PM
3 meters?!

um, how about 3 centimeters?

http://www.techtv.com/news/business/story/0,24195,3327030,00.html

KenWittlief
04-18-2003, 02:32 PM
dont confuse the instantainious - once per update accuracy with what is possible when you average position over several seconds - or when you already know your starting point.

there are many clever ways to get incredible accuracy out of GPS.

Aaron Lussier
04-18-2003, 03:02 PM
Reading through the posts inthis thread I have noticed something, Nobody have made any mention of StangPS yet, granted that it's a much bigger task than on a 48 ft field, but I belive if you had satalite and topo maps and some how worked in the whole automous thing they got going on, I have a feeling it just might work, Put aside all the conserns about fuel, and engines and what not, and think abou this for a sec If we could cordinate and make a 3D model of the competition area, and then use modified StangPS software to pick out check points for the robot to go to, I think that it could work. Granted making a 3D model that big would take some time and some major rendering power, but combined with the Software, it just may work.

Eric Reed
04-18-2003, 03:08 PM
> 3 meters?!
>
> um, how about 3 centimeters?

Actually, that article states 25-30 cm.

I don't think that's on the publicly available GPS, though. The article talks about NavCom giving a 'correction' to GPS. The article is probably talking about 'differential' GPS...which requires a fixed transmitter in addition to the satellites. This is easy to implement on a farm, which is relatively small, but probably much more difficult on a 250 mile course known two hours before the race.

The following site shows standard GPS accuracy in the 10^1 m range...and also shows accuracies for differential GPS:

Navy GPS error site (http://jerba.oc.nps.navy.mil/~jclynch/gpsacc.html)

Regarding the instantaneous vs. average, I have a hunch that the error in GPS has a lot to do with environmental conditions. In this case you are not talking about random error, but an error that would be hard to average out. There is another page on the navy site (http://www.oc.nps.navy.mil/~jclynch/accfact.html) that seems to support this.

I'm not saying that a DARPA vehicle using DGPS and achieving accuracy below the 30 cm range is impossible, but I think it will be extremely difficult.

Eric.

PsiMatt
04-20-2003, 01:16 AM
If we could cordinate and make a 3D model of the competition area, and then use modified StangPS software to pick out check points for the robot to go to, I think that it could work. Granted making a 3D model that big would take some time and some major rendering power, but combined with the Software, it just may work.

Now...about the idea of mapping out the field in advance....the problem with that is they will not give you the data for the route that you must follow until 2 hours prior to the starting time. That data includes checkpoints, route boundaries and other such stuff that must be followed on penalty of disqualification.

We're going to need a system that is flexible enough to actively respond to obstacles, to modify its behavior to accomodate whatever parameters we recieve

SiliconKnight
04-20-2003, 02:56 AM
You can't map the field in advance, because according to the rules, you only get the course 4 hours before the start of the competition.

I don't know what SUV you're talking about, but my 03' Honda Accord gets about 25 mph City, 29mph highway. And Honda makes some of the most fuel efficient cars out there.

I wouldn't depend solely on GPS. First of all, the update on GPS is fairly slow - a *good* GPS unit can do about one update every second, given clear line of sight to the satellites. The course will contain various obstacles such as underpasses, trees, gulleys, etc - no problem for a commercial pickup truck, but you will loose GPS tracking signal in a hurry. DGPS might not be an option either, there are probably offroad sections where you won't be able to get a differential signal to correct your GPS.

The vehicle will also have to watch for other hazzards on the road - including but not limited to other vehicles. Considering how hard it is just to make a robot U-Turn and go up a ramp...

Good luck, guys!

-=- Terence

Marc P.
04-20-2003, 11:05 AM
Now, I'm east coast, and can't do much as per this competition, but I do have a few ideas. I've seen lots of object detection technologies out there, including radar (think weather radar maps), proximity sensors, even optical recognition (cameras which can sense and analyze features). The only real programming language I know is BASIC and PBasic, so I'm not quite sure how data can be collected and organized/processed in any other languages, but it seems it shouldn't be that hard to compile information like that together.

All one would really have to do is create a model (either 3d mapped, or just in variables/numbers) of objects relative to the vehicle itself, then compare with input data from one (or a few, with the average used) GPS's, such that if an object is detected in the path of it's current motion, software will turn the vehicle until the object is no longer in it's path, analyze similar sensors on both sides of the vehicle until no further hindering objects are detected, then resume the pre-set course (via preset waypoints, etc). Again, since I'm not a real programmer, I have no idea how hard this would be to create, nor how well input data can be manipulated to produce the desired output.

Thinking logically though (and in relation to our own IFI robot controllers), let's say you have 3 GPS's on the vehicle, one in the front left, one in the front right, and one in the rear center. The output data (usually NMEA) can be averaged between the three of them, to produce more accurate positioning than any one of them individually. This average becomes two variables, an X coordinate and a Y coordinate. Any sensor input data would be defined in relation to the GPS coordinates. If a radar detects an object directly in front of the vehicle, say, 9 meters directly ahead, and the vehicle is traveling in the positive direction on the Y axis, the computer can input the 9 meters given from the radar as Y + 9, and create a plot on a preset map (if the general location of the course is known, e.g. a block of space between LA and LV with known coordinates.) The computer should be scanning it's position based on the GPS data, and it's relative location to mapped objects (Detected by scanners). Add in a cushion for the size of the vehicle, and it shouldn't bee too difficult to get it to turn if objects are mapped directly in it's path.

Again, I'm not a programmer and have no idea what would be involved in this, but thinking in terms of PBasic and the IFI equipment, it's really not too hard (on a simpler scale, e.g. optical sensors, yaw rate sensors, etc).

Kevin A
04-20-2003, 12:49 PM
Whats up with slamming the VW engine? If you do the cooling right and keep all the engine tin on there all is fine!

KenWittlief
04-20-2003, 08:19 PM
I agree with you - Ive owned 10 aircooled VW vehicles over the years - put an external oil cooler , and a good blower on it, and you got the perfect engine for a desert machine

only thing, I would want an autotranny bolted to it. Automating a 4 speed mannytranny and clutch would be wasted time from the real problem that NEEDS to be solved

navigation!

Frank(Aflak)
04-20-2003, 09:26 PM
no help huh?

I see two options.

A) High tech solar powered battery-toting low-riding aerodynamic SOB. Advantages: very cool, very slick. Disadvantages: expensive. Very very much so. And slower than internal combustion engines.

B) Heres what I would do (if it fit in the rules). I would buy a pickup or van, a really crappy old one. In the back I would put gas tanks so it could make the trip on one tank. In the drivers seat I would set it up so that it could be autonomous. Think that simpsons episode where Homer and Bart drive the 18 wheeler with the autopilot. You would probably want GPS in there, and you would want pretty sophisticated obsticle detection and road atlas software. Advantages: cheap. ghetto. if you were reckless you could set it up to go 100 mph +. It would be able to survive minor collisions with no work needed. would be really cool to see a truck driving itself. You would have lots of spare cargo space for fun systems like radio PA systems or a video recorder with thousands of hours of tape. Imagine pulling up with an 80's pickup on your trailer, unloading it around all those slick solar cars. You could have fun with the paint job, more so than with those solar ones cause its bigger, and you don't need solar cells on top.
Disadvantages: prone to breaking down (get it serviced before you convert it) ugly, loud, 'dirty.' possibility of running out of gas. Bad stuff if you hit someone/something at high speeds.


still. I say go with the 'convert-a-beater' method. It would be more fun. You could even make it look like a humanoid, or an alien or something is driving. heh.

PsiMatt
04-21-2003, 03:45 AM
In about a month or so, I'd like to picka design and begin working on the technical paper required by DARPA for the competition. Is that ok with everybody?

Jnadke
04-21-2003, 01:29 PM
Originally posted by SiliconKnight
I don't know what SUV you're talking about, but my 03' Honda Accord gets about 25 mph City, 29mph highway. And Honda makes some of the most fuel efficient cars out there.

http://www.fueleconomy.gov. Research, research, research.

Originally posted by Marc P.
All one would really have to do is create a model (either 3d mapped, or just in variables/numbers) of objects relative to the vehicle itself, then compare with input data from one (or a few, with the average used) GPS's, such that if an object is detected in the path of it's current motion, software will turn the vehicle until the object is no longer in it's path, analyze similar sensors on both sides of the vehicle until no further hindering objects are detected, then resume the pre-set course (via preset waypoints, etc). Again, since I'm not a real programmer, I have no idea how hard this would be to create, nor how well input data can be manipulated to produce the desired output.

Yeah, this would be ideal in theory, but it's easier said than done. Shape recognition alone is very difficult to do, no less evaluating them.

Originally posted by Frank(Aflak)
Heres what I would do (if it fit in the rules). I would buy a pickup or van, a really crappy old one... Blah, blah, blah.... Bad stuff if you hit someone/something at high speeds.

I see a lot of people saying "Do this" without giving any plausible reasons. I noticed that many are trying to convert designs that are driven by humans to one that could be driven by a computer. It's better design a new vehicle from the ground-up rather than modify an existing vehicle because you don't have to work around the built-in safety mechanisms in automobiles, which are meant to be driven by humans.



It's far easier to just eliminate the safety mechanisms and focus on the collision detection and avoidance aspect of the vehicle. At 40MPH the vehicle isn't going to survive. Period. Build it lightweight with a carbon fiber body to maximize fuel efficiency. I'd probabaly use a lightweight aluminum piston or rotary engine. The fuel density is just so much greater (by a few hundred percent!) and cheaper with a liquid fuel versus batteries.

KenWittlief
04-21-2003, 02:16 PM
DARPA has already stated this course could be driven by a human in a jeep or 4WD pickup (although your kidneys might get bruised at the speed requied through the desert)

so why are people trying to design new vehicles - frames, engines - solar powered?!?!

this is not a contest to see who can make a vehicle that can go from LA to Vegas - we already have hundreds of vehicles right now that can easily do it.

The 'trick' is to make the vehicle drive there all by itself!

this contest is about auto-navigation - piece of cake in an aircraft or sailboat - pretty challenging in the desert or on a two lane dirt road.

THAT is where the contest will be won or lost:

1. Naviagtion
2. Navigation
3. Navigation

there is no reason to 're-invent the jeep'

team222badbrad
04-21-2003, 02:41 PM
I agree that you will get something out of this project even if the car or whatever goes 10 feet but...

I can't help but laugh at all the people who say this is an easy task.

Why do you think the military wants someone to build one?

(because this is no easy task....)

One question how well did your team's auto code work???

Why build a truck that can roll over when you can build a supersize of this?

Matt Krass
04-21-2003, 03:21 PM
I might not be a crackerjack programmer, but I'm willing to contribute any coding I can. IIRC you can purchase GPS units that can feedback through a serial port to a computer. An idea perhaps, use a modified version of the StangPS plotting software and a GPS program written to take in the info and map it onto the virtual path, then you can plot the course via computer when preparing for the race. If we can get it to work like 111's auto code, I'd say we are in good shape. I'd like to work with someone on the GPS input side of things, but I'll need specifications, mainly what unit are you using and how does it interface? How does it form the packets of information. Once I have that I'm confident I can (with 111's programming hlep) build a program to plot a GPS course. It won't help with local stuff, but at least it can keep itself in the general right direction :-). So one you decide on a GPS unit, lemme know and I'll try to come up with something.

PsiMatt
04-22-2003, 01:29 AM
While I agree that this will be no easy undertaking, it is definitely possible, and any contributions at all are welcome. Soon we will have a team website so i'll keep you all posted on team developments.

AlbertW
04-22-2003, 02:16 AM
how bout we modify a gas/electric hybrid, then stick solar panels on it. A tank of gas should be enough to do the whole thing, when augmented with an unlimited source of power. then just mount a bunch of sensors on the front so it doesn't run anyone over, tie a GPS system to the controls, and drive the car with servos and pistons (for the petals and steering)

JasonStern
04-22-2003, 11:15 AM
I think some of you are missing the point. While you could technically convert a 4x4 to an autonomous device, why would you? anything meant to be driven by humans will be big, will have safety devices which aren't needed, and will have wasted space. Look at nasa. when they want to design a moon rover, they don't convert a commercial vehicale! Nor do firsters take an RC car, swap out some parts and call it a robot.

If you truely plan on doing this (which I think is great, but i'm on the wrong coast), then use a bottom up aproach. maybe not from scratch, but dont just modify someone else's creation. Be creative, dare to use your imagination and think outside the box. small example: lots of ppl suggest putting a large gas tank on the 'bot so it has all the fuel it needs, with no stopping. problem with that is it adds weight, which lowers efficaincy, which in turn requires more gas. if you are allowed to refuel, take advantage of it. it isn't hard to build a homing beacon and put it at the checkpoint (legal, according to the rules). have the bot dock, swap fuel cells/batteries/fill up/whatever and go on its merry way!

Also, combustable materials in purely autonomous vechiles is not such a hot idea. pretend the purpose of the bot is to scout out potentialy hostile territory and take that into consideration. anything that can explode is bad!

just my .02

Jnadke
04-22-2003, 11:40 AM
Originally posted by JasonStern
I think some of you are missing the point. While you could technically convert a 4x4 to an autonomous device, why would you? anything meant to be driven by humans will be big, will have safety devices which aren't needed, and will have wasted space. Look at nasa. when they want to design a moon rover, they don't convert a commercial vehicale! Nor do firsters take an RC car, swap out some parts and call it a robot.

If you truely plan on doing this (which I think is great, but i'm on the wrong coast), then use a bottom up aproach. maybe not from scratch, but dont just modify someone else's creation. Be creative, dare to use your imagination and think outside the box. small example: lots of ppl suggest putting a large gas tank on the 'bot so it has all the fuel it needs, with no stopping. problem with that is it adds weight, which lowers efficaincy, which in turn requires more gas. if you are allowed to refuel, take advantage of it. it isn't hard to build a homing beacon and put it at the checkpoint (legal, according to the rules). have the bot dock, swap fuel cells/batteries/fill up/whatever and go on its merry way!

Also, combustable materials in purely autonomous vechiles is not such a hot idea. pretend the purpose of the bot is to scout out potentialy hostile territory and take that into consideration. anything that can explode is bad!


Exactly my point. Although, comparing the weight with the amount of energy you will get out of gasoline, it is by far the best fuel source available. I do see where you are coming from, but until other fuel sources have comparable energy densities, there really isn't much other choice. Gas weighs 6.1lbs per gallon. A heavily optimized 2-3 cylinder piston or rotary engine will average 50mpg easily. You'll only need 8 gallons of gas, which is 40lbs. The weight is good anyways, because if the vehicle is too light you won't maintain traction in turns.

The reason why it's better to build something from the ground-up, other than the above, is because then there is less that you have to worry about in the programming. Most SUV's/Trucks have an extremely high center of gravity, and they will tip when taking a sharp turn at 40 MPH, removing you from the competition. Sure, you could use tilt sensors to detect how much centripetal force is being exerted on the vehicle, but then all the more you have to worry about in slowing the vehicle down and such. Remember, that this is a race. Only the fastest vehicle gets the prize. A vehicle with a lower center of gravity will navigate much easier.

Kevin A
04-22-2003, 11:44 AM
I agree with all of you who say that building from the ground up is mo betta'. Also they say the money rolls over if nobody qualifies for it this year, so we can see what type of vehicle does best.

PsiMatt
04-23-2003, 03:16 AM
Exactly

KenWittlief
04-23-2003, 08:59 AM
designing this machine from the ground up is a violation of one of the Golden Rules of Engineering:

6. Dont re-invent the wheel!

The team that wins this contest will spend 99.999% of their time, energy and resources solving the navigation problem

and 0.001% of their time integrating their navigation system onto an existing vehicle.

JasonStern
04-24-2003, 12:16 PM
Originally posted by KenWittlief
designing this machine from the ground up is a violation of one of the Golden Rules of Engineering:

6. Dont re-invent the wheel!



One of the problems with this philosopy is, how do you know if you are re-inventing the wheel? Innovation is about using commonly available objects and coming up with exciting new ways to use them. Sure, maybe your new design uses a wheel in it, but it doesn't mean it is re-inventing it! and just because someone else has an idea that works, doesnt mean you shouldn't try out your own as well. Think of how many innventions in history would not exist except for their creator's attemp to re-invent!

KenWittlief
04-24-2003, 03:08 PM
Jason - you know because the function you are trying to implement is already available off-the-shelf

the contest is to produce a vehicle/machine that can find its way from LA to LV all by itself, on the ground, in the desert and on the highway, in 10 hours or less.

We already have machines that can meet this challenge if you put a:

1. human driver
2. radio control system
3. trained monkey

behind the steering wheel.

The Golden Rule 'dont re-invent' means exactly that - you need to be able to determine what parts of this new machine already exist, and what parts need to be invented.

If you start inventing electic cars, or using solar powered vehicles, designing new frames, chassis, engines, transmissions...

you have already gotten sidetracked - you are already lost!

the challenge DARPA is throwing down is self-naviation.

Solve the self navigation problem and you get a cool 1 Million, and you can be sure DARPA will incorporate your idea into:

Jeeps
tanks
mindsweepers
HumVees
personnel carriers

and a cruise missle on wheels :c)

one of the real challenges of enginnering is to stay focused on the REAL problem - and not run off an play with technology, your tools, your CAD...

hence the Golden Rule! [Its GOLD for a reason - dont rationalize it away :c]

Jnadke
04-24-2003, 03:21 PM
Originally posted by KenWittlief
The challenge DARPA is throwing down is self-naviation.

Not entirely true. Part of the problem is integrating that navigation system with the vehicle. Does a computer have arms that can manipulate a steering wheel? Does a computer have legs to manipulate a gas pedal? Does a computer need leather seats and an airbag?


I could design a navigation system in a day. It does me no good if it isn't tailored to the vehicle.

It makes it a lot easier if the vehicle is simpler to tailor the navigation system to.



The challenge DARPA is giving us is to build a computer-controlled vehicle. Many sub-systems in today's vehicles are designed so that a human can work with them efficiently. Obviously, a computer doesn't have the same features as a human, so these sub-systems are going to have to either be removed or re-designed so that a computer can work with them efficiently.


A4. The route will be similar to a desert off-road race. For example, it will be possible for a skilled driver in a commercial four-wheel drive vehicle to traverse the route, although not necessarily at the speeds necessary to qualify for the award.

The golden word here is efficiency.

There's no doubt about it that navigation is a big part of this competition, but you cannot overlook the integration aspect.

KenWittlief
04-24-2003, 04:54 PM
power steering, power brakes

cruise control...

from an engineering perspective, connecting a servo to the controls of an existing vehicle (auto-tranny jeep for example) is trivial

any engineer can create an electromechanical link between a computer output, and a shaft that needs to be precisely turned, or a thottle cable that needs to be pulled.

all that technology exists now - its doesnt have to be effecient or cheap - you only need to build one to win the contest, and you only have to run it for 10 hours

TELLING your servo controlled steering which way to turn, and how much - that is what earns you the $1Million prize.

and there is a lot of existing technology out there right now that is also off the shelf - for the naiviagtion part of it:

GPS - will tell you where you are very precisely, and will tell you which way to turn to get to your next waypoint (much more precisely) it will also tell you how far away it is, how fast you are going, and how long its going to take you to get there - you can buy all this for about $200 today.

Range finders: laser, ultra sound, radar.... will tell you whats immediately around you, how far away it is, what direction, how fast its moving - this technology is available off the shelf.

Cameras: 2D or 3D - visable light, infar-red (sees through smoke and dust!) auto focusing - auto exposure - prices start at $50

portable computer equipment: take your pic - you can buy laptops on ebay for $100 that have more computational power than the space shuttle did the first time it flew.

There is very little invention that would be required to design this machine - its mostly an integration problem - taking different subsystems and making them work together to acheive the desired functionality.

Being on a FIRST team, you understand all this - right? You just need to come up with the right 'kit of parts' and integrate them.

Next time you take a ride in a car, or the school bus, look out the front window and imagine YOU are the DARPA machine, driving on the road - squint your eyes down and think about the commands you would have to send to the vehicle

how much info do you need to process? how fast do you need to respond.

I think you will be surprized how easy this task could be - when you break it down to its bare essentials!

PsiMatt
04-29-2003, 12:29 AM
just a few points...

1) a project of this magnitude will never truly be easy, even for FIRSTers

2) This is a challenge that may or may not require innovation where the vehicle is concerned, so let's not discount that option

3) What we say and what we can actually do may be very different

KenWittlief
04-29-2003, 09:25 AM
Engineering Golden Rule # 17:

functionally ANYTHING is possible

[given enough time, money and resources]

PsiMatt
04-30-2003, 12:44 AM
Except acquiring the legendary material unobtanium...

sanddrag
04-30-2003, 01:03 AM
Originally posted by PsiMatt
Except acquiring the legendary material unobtanium... I believe I have found it in the form of RC car shock shafts. [link (http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0095p?FVPROFIL=&FVSEARCH=UNOBTAINIUM)] It appears to be some blend of titanium carbonitride. Hrmmm.

I wonder if the above products will really make electrical energy from heat and be able to sustain high pressures like in the movie The Core?:D

nuggetsyl
04-30-2003, 09:46 AM
You guys are making this to hard. Use simple answers to that way it is easy to fix problems later. I have answers to some of the problems we would incure but i a waiting to see if a team is assembled to work on the project. 2nd i would rather not tell everyone because you do not know who else is reading this wedsite.

George
04-30-2003, 01:34 PM
Now that someone said the magic word...........

1] I am in NW AZ (120 miles from Las vagus)

2] Have access to largest machine-shop in AZ

3] Small 4x4 trucks are affordable

4] Back ground in Mach/Elec/Hyd/Industrial Controls

Looking for REAL Serious people

George
05-07-2003, 07:35 PM
NO TAKERS???

Not even a Reply????

No Comments??????

PsiMatt
05-07-2003, 09:24 PM
Well...i would assume that most are busy, but I am indeed interested

fox46
05-07-2003, 10:00 PM
6. Dont re-invent the wheel

what about the omni wheel???

fox46
05-07-2003, 10:05 PM
count me in, I'll build the vehicle, you guys can do the navigation! seriously.....it really isn't my forte

Matthew936
05-07-2003, 10:45 PM
First let me say I do not have the knowledge to tell you how to build the navagation, I do however think I have enough knowledge of the mechanical end to do that part. I will not be able to actually help you with the build, so either take the advice, modify it, or leave it. :D

First of all, you do need to re-invent the wheel. If a professional team can build a machine that can navigate the course properly then you can bet it will be done in less than 10 hours. How, you may ask, it is simple. The vehicle will be much lighter and more aerodynamic than a normal car. For those saying you need an extra large gas tank, realise that with a lighter, better shaped vehicle, without the safety things added, you can get much better gas milage.

Use large tires, for most of the race you will not need lots of power (maybe a steep hill). Remember your vehicle is light.

high vs low center of gravity: this one is tricky, you don't know what obsticles are going to be on the course. I would try to go with a low one that can roll up so as not to get stuck on obsticles. What i mean by roll up the front of the vehicle would have wheels on it that are small but when force is applied to the front of them at x height or lower it rolls, thus lifting the main body of your vehicle. The problem with this it will require extra power out of your engine.

Definately use some sort of gassoline, don't even bother trying to go electric, hybrid, solar (rainy day in the desert for this would really suck), or some sort of refill.

40mph will not win this competition, try to go around 60mph in the desert, and 80+ on the road.

Have fun and post the results

sanddrag
05-07-2003, 10:55 PM
I am willing to help with all the mechanical stuff. Just send me a PM or something when this thing gets underway because I am very interested.

pauluffel
05-14-2003, 12:19 PM
About navigation...
All of these ideas about using GPS are great because it gives you the information in a nice preformatted way, but the other ways might be more stable and reliable. In order to make the best possible competition autobot, there needs to be redundency in the naviagation methods by using several of methods to find location. The ones I like...
1. GPS - nice and clean, it directly gives you your position
2. Visual Landmarks - find path rather than direct position by using pre0set landmarks.
3. Compass - use a digital-output compass and an odometer and plot course (remember boyscouts? <not to exclude all the female engineers here, but I have no experience with girlscouts>

My favourite is the third because it relies on the earth rather than satellites, so it"s base for positioning is more stable. The only dillema is that the odometer could be wrong and thus the positioning would be completely off and the autobot would get more wrong as it progressed.

As to locomotion...
It must be a ground vehicle, but it would be much more agile if it had something to augment its wheels. It would probably be difficult, but it would be really cool to have some sort of explosive propulsion on it to (kind of like a MechWarrior 'jump-jet' or the StarFox64 tank that could get a little bit off the ground to overcome obstacles.)

looks like a bit more than $2/100, so my unofficial opinion appraises it at $.46

George
05-14-2003, 07:35 PM
Still working on a proposal,
maybe 5-17/18 or there abouts
Geo.

Amanda M
05-15-2003, 08:02 PM
Hey, George! I know I already told you this, but just so everybody else knows, I'm in too!

--Mandy

George
05-21-2003, 10:35 PM
Hi,
These are some of the thoughts I've had and some proposals
to go along with them,

Create a Team of students, Mentors, Ex FIRSTers (FIRST-a- holics!) etc, etc, (oh yea, FIRST teams TOO!)
To enter, design, build, test, AND WIN this race.
To Promote FIRST on a national level.
To tap the fantastic Brain Trust and NET WORK that is being
created Thu the FIRST program on a REAL WORLD bases.

Think of this endeavor like the international space station,
large & SMALL contributions adding up to something beyond
individual efforts.

Structured after the FIRST "Team Model"

PRIZE MONEY to be donated to FIRST
(after reimbursement for supples, at coast, as needed,
just like your FIRST team dose)

The most giving reason for not participating I have heard is time,
But small contributions ADD up, could you or your team, class,
mentor, spend an hour or two researching a sensor or product?
Could you ask a colleague/teacher/professor About a system
or a program?

For the more dedicated, could you manage a web page?
setup and run a forum?

Speaking of time, I'am out of it.

Please think about this,

Please Comment!!

Your input is NEEDED!

Next post will be the fun stuff!

Geo.

GregTheGreat
05-22-2003, 05:04 PM
I would be more then happy, to help in any way I can. Although I live in Indiana, I can still help you with the programming. If you guys need help with it, I am you're guy.

George
05-22-2003, 10:10 PM
Greg,
Indiana is not too far....Nor is NY, MA, WA, or AK

I purpose a Target Date of 4/05 if possible for a first attempt.

This gives the Team time to organize and setup communications
Research systems and components (also see a "first Run" -think scouting-)
**Arrange Financing and Donations**
Expenses will probably TOP $150,000 in parts alone.

PLANNING

This endeavor is More than just "BUILD-A-BOT"

And thats not counting promoting FIRST !

Please add your Ideas!!


OK, Lets start with a small used 4x4 truck (Ford or Toyota)

Auto trans, Gas with fuel injection, auxiliary gas tank, batteries,and power takeoff generator,

I think a Truck is a must, we will need the extra space for
processors, sensor, and other equipment (don't forget vibration
damping, this one could win or lose the race.)

No refueling-- no driver is approx 220lbs payload savings
= 30 gal gas with fuel cell + stock tank

Power requirements are dictated by equipment, but we are going
to need to generate, store and condition power,

I think this can all be fit in a truck bed with a camper shell.
and still have room to work

I left the cab Open for readouts and Manuel operation

Out of time again,

Any one Interested yet?

Please pass the word !

Lets get started

Geo.

P.S. I ran across a system that uses laser mapping ,sonar and
can be used with GPS , "off the shelf" and is not a "fly-by-night"
Is any one else Hunting??

Cory
05-22-2003, 10:49 PM
As much as I think this would be totally awesome, I think that any effort to enter this competition and finish will fail without massive corporate backing. As I said earlier, I think it will cost almost as much, if not more to try and do such a thing.

Even so, Im in :D

Cory

Cory
05-22-2003, 10:53 PM
Originally posted by pauluffel
1. GPS - nice and clean, it directly gives you your position


The only thing about GPS that I see as a problem is that the government only allows commercial users to fix their position with 3(I think?) satellites, which gets you fairly close to where you actually are, as opposed to military GPS, which I believe uses 5 satellites, and can get you to within a few meters of your location. What I am getting at is what if some sort of environmental feature were in the way, and the GPS is not accurate enough to stay away from it. This would bring up the need for redundant systems of tracking location/terrain avoidance as others have said.

My 2 cents.

Cory

{edit} probably should have edited those two posts into one but oh well...

GregTheGreat
05-22-2003, 11:12 PM
If you guys want, I can set up a website with a separate message board, so we don't have to go back and fourth on Delphi. I can also set up info on the program, and anything else you guys want on there.

Krystine T.
05-23-2003, 11:24 AM
hey goerge!

i just wanted to say I'm in too! the only thing i need is a little bit of instruction. let me now what you need me to do.

tenfour
05-23-2003, 11:33 AM
Chris here from team 696.

Count me in for this project. I have three years exp. in FIRST and have mechanical knowledge.

pauluffel
05-24-2003, 07:26 PM
From what I can gather from these posts, there are loads of people willing to supply there little bits of help (or large chunks of help), but in order to actually use this help, we need an organized administration. If any of you have any experience with businesses or leader your FIRST teams or anything else, please offer this to PsiMatt and help him organize who from where and how they want to help (sorry, I couldn"t think of a good way to get when what and why in there). Also Matt, I"d be willing to help with a bit of organizational crapand I have a teamate (VincentChan) who will also offer his life for this.

Amanda M
05-24-2003, 11:15 PM
Originally posted by pauluffel
From what I can gather from these posts, there are loads of people willing to supply there little bits of help (or large chunks of help), but in order to actually use this help, we need an organized administration. If any of you have any experience with businesses or leader your FIRST teams or anything else, please offer this to PsiMatt and help him organize who from where and how they want to help (sorry, I couldn"t think of a good way to get when what and why in there). Also Matt, I"d be willing to help with a bit of organizational crapand I have a teamate (VincentChan) who will also offer his life for this.

I think that if we want to organize anything, we need to talk to George... he's the one who wrote the proposal...

Sorry Matt! (didn't mean to step on any toes here)

Greg Ross
05-25-2003, 12:45 AM
Originally posted by Cory
The only thing about GPS that I see as a problem is that the government only allows commercial users to fix their position with 3(I think?) satellites, which gets you fairly close to where you actually are, as opposed to military GPS, which I believe uses 5 satellites, and can get you to within a few meters of your location. What I am getting at is what if some sort of environmental feature were in the way, and the GPS is not accurate enough to stay away from it. This would bring up the need for redundant systems of tracking location/terrain avoidance as others have said.
The biggest functional difference between civilian and military GPS is that the civilian signal may be "degraded" (called selective availability) at any time the government deems it necessary. When selective availability is in force, the satellites transmit intentionally misleading information. The effect is that the position calculated by the receiver is only within about 100 meters of its actual position. Selective availability was disabled on May 2, 2000 (http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/FGCS/info/sans_SA/). Since then, the acuracy is supposed to be within 20m.

There is no limitation on the number of satellites that a GPS receiver is allowed to use. (Other than the number of satellites that are "in view" at any one time.) I think the civilian and military signals are carried by separate constellations of satellites, so it may be that the military constellation has a larger number of satellites, and so a larger number of satellites may be visible at any given time. This could be where you got the idea that civilian GPS could only use 3 satellites at a time.

George
05-25-2003, 07:34 PM
Hi,

I think it's a little early to start a web site, I know we will soon out grow the Delphi Forum, and be come too much of a burden
on these Wonderful people, But I hope they put up with us a little longer, This is the best place to contact FIRST people.......

I have ask Brandon M. to start a New Thread using the two
proposal posts And this maybe this one(?)
Titled "The Grand FIRST Team"
(I did not get any feedback, so I hope you all like the name.
And I nominate it for the Official TEAM Name.......
Any others?
2nds?)

I asked for this change To generate New Interest and ease of uses

I am glad the question of organization has been addressed early,
(Thanks, Paul) This is one of the things that will make or break
this team, that and Communication are VERY, VERY IMPORTANT

I think its also a little early to be picking people for posts,
we have not even agreed to do this yet,
Let-alone set the team structure.
I will say that Matt is in a very good location for the So West
just as Greg is centrally located for the net.

Just PLEASE, EVERYONE look inside your-selves and ask,
do you want to do this, And..........
if you have time for this,
Some of these JOBS are INTENSE
And don't be afraid to ask for help if you become swamped,
Thats what a TEAM is for!

One last thing this time,

Its still early but I would like anyone interested in this endeavor to contact me,Personally with real names, locations, team #, Short resume, and permission to Use / Post Your Name in conjunction with this contest to rally sponsors and gain interest

Keep posting, your thinking is IMPORTANT!

Geo.

P.S. think I found a GPS expert!

P.S.S.

If I have not mentioned any one, Don't feel "left out"
Please contact me.

Specialagentjim
05-25-2003, 10:59 PM
I'm in proboly one of the least geographically appealing locations for this, but if anyone on the easy coast thinks of anyway we can meet occasioanlly, let me know! I'd love to help but I think the real key to this whole thing, truthfully, is money. With money, the two debated main points of the competiton here, Navigation and Machine durability/efficiency, will both follow. Is there anyone out there who's amazing at finding sponors and knows somebody/someplace willing to give a couple hundred grand (because, realistcally, that's how much this kinda stuff would take).

Now I've gotten that outta the way, my thoughts on the machine.

I think that the standard commercial vehicle drivetrain would be needed, so it's really kinda pointless to reengineer something as complex as a motor system. However, it's really also pointless to take a jeep and retrofit it with a servo control system to control steering etc. There would have to be a happy medium. If money weren't an issue, I'd say build your own Chasis and rip the engine system out of something really efficient, like the new VW's Diesel engines. Build a strong, durable, aerodynamic, lightweight chasis. You don't need to take passengers, so that cuts out most of the inside of car. Now you've got a chasis thats about 3-5 feet high at most, somewhere around 4 feet off the ground with huge beefy tires.

Control system-wise, I've seen a lotta research going into vision detection. I think that would be great for line tracking while on the road. Once offroad, that system would be disabled and switch into an alternate system for object avoidance. [Object avoidance would be activated during line tracking, but would not be the primary guidance]. I'm also thinking, if you were to get a map of the overall area, and plot the course using way points, AND indicating alternate routes if the primary is unavaible, you'd be in good shape. Walk up to the machine in that two hour period, pull up the map of LA to LV on a tablet PC, and just start plotting where its gotta be and when. If it discovers through obstacle avoidance that that routes not available, switch to secondary or triary waypoints and continue. Waypoints would be established and checked against GPS and distance. Your waypoints would have distances according to the map (as long as they're accurate) and you could check yourself between the two, confirming your in the right place.

Well, thats my thoughts...

DanLevin247
05-26-2003, 12:58 PM
This intrigues me greatly.....I'd like to offer my assistance wherever necessary. When taking on such a task, there are so many variables to consider, you guys are doing a fine job touching many of these variables, but having read the posts in this thread, I thought I'd offer some of my input.

What about traction/wheel durability? Say your'e machine had to take on a steep grade, you could shift gears...but without the finese of a human foot on a gas pedal, you're wheels are going to slip.

Also...What if you unfourtantly ran over a sharp rock or something along the lines of that, and punctured a tire? Goodyear runflats would be the simple solution...but I don't think they have a baja eddition of that product line.

sanddrag
05-26-2003, 01:06 PM
Originally posted by DanLevin247
What about traction/wheel durability? Say your'e machine had to take on a steep grade, you could shift gears...but without the finese of a human foot on a gas pedal, you're wheels are going to slip.

Also...What if you unfourtantly ran over a sharp rock or something along the lines of that, and punctured a tire? Goodyear runflats would be the simple solution...but I don't think they have a baja eddition of that product line. So what if the wheels slip?

For they type of wheels and tires, I'm thinking some 33"+ Super Swampers or Boggers or possibly Pro-Comp X-Terrains. Any of those should hold up fine and have excellent traction. For wheels, you definitely need beadlocks.

There is a world class off-road shop in Burbank, California called ORU, (Off Road Unlimited) who can do any custom suspension beefing-up or lifting you want. Also down the street from them is a 4 Wheel Parts store.

DanLevin247
05-26-2003, 01:12 PM
Controlling acents and decents would be yet another interesting challenege to overcome. Take an incline at an angle, and you might roll right down the hill, or stay on the incline too long, and the enginee could flood....Take a decline to fast, and you might lose controll and careening down the hill, only to smash your'e creation's front end when you hit the ground.

sanddrag
05-26-2003, 02:43 PM
Originally posted by DanLevin247
or stay on the incline too long, and the enginee could flood....Take a decline to fast, and you might lose controll and careening down the hill, only to smash your'e creation's front end when you hit the ground. Fuel-Injection and a good skidplate could fix those two problems.

Specialagentjim
05-26-2003, 02:45 PM
Originally posted by DanLevin247
Controlling acents and decents would be yet another interesting challenege to overcome. Take an incline at an angle, and you might roll right down the hill, or stay on the incline too long, and the enginee could flood....Take a decline to fast, and you might lose controll and careening down the hill, only to smash your'e creation's front end when you hit the ground.


I think maybe for something along those lines would be prevented through software. If the software sees that it's coming up to something it's not going to travel across well, it's localized navigation system would kick in and find an alternate route. This could be created using obsticale avoidance (as any sharp incline would rise up to a level where the onboard sensor suite could detect) and through something along the lines of a gyro. The gyro could give the software feedback, letting it know that the car is at too much of an angle, and needs to back off and find another way.

DanLevin247
05-26-2003, 03:15 PM
It could be too little too late to back up and find another way if it's already going down, or up something.....What would happen if somehow, the truck managed to high center itself on something? Say it's approaching a rock, the onboard sensors detect that the rock is x inches high, and the program knows that the suspension has y bound....without some way of 3d imaging, the rock could appear as x hieght from one angle, or another variable from another...so say the vechicle decides to go for it, and attempts to go over the rock. Midway through the transition over the rock, the wheelbase proves itself to be too long and the suspension doesn't have a large enough bound...causing the truck to become stuck...

pauluffel
05-26-2003, 03:32 PM
The idea of having a wheels too far apart causing the autobot to get stuck reminds of issues we had thinking about this year"s FIRST game involving the ramp. There will probably be ditches and slight bumps that will be large enough to cause problems for 4 wheels, but if we"re going to build the chassis ourselves and just use a premade motor, why not use six wheels instead of four? This would help us clear ditches deep enough to get the front wheel stuck in, rocks or fallen trees big enough to catch the underside of the autobot, or patches of mud that compromise the traction of two or three of the wheels (and it would look alot cooler than anything with only 4 wheels).

As to object aversion, there are ultrasonic sensors that come with a servo and a small circuitboard that check distances between the sensor and surrounding objects. Coupling several of these at different levels with the velocity given by the GPS unit, a usable map of distances and heights between the autobot and its surroundings could be created which could be used for plotting the course.

(And just for fun and appeal to The DARPA, I think we should put a turret on the top with a pyrometric sensor and a digital camera that snaps pictures of everything living thing and autobot it comes across and pitch it as a "target recognition and tracking device")

Brandon Martus
05-26-2003, 05:13 PM
Originally posted by George
I have ask Brandon M. to start a New Thread using the two
proposal posts

I've gone one step further & given you guys your own sub-forum, since you guys can probably fill more than 2 threads..

RogerR
05-27-2003, 01:35 AM
Originally posted by pauluffel
There will probably be ditches and slight bumps that will be large enough to cause problems for 4 wheels, but if we"re going to build the chassis ourselves and just use a premade motor, why not use six wheels instead of four?

why not use tank treads?
the difficulty with steering could be solved (at least) 3 ways:

[how old tanks solved it] the seperate treads on each side could be hooked up to seperatea clutches and brakes, and you could use these to power and de-power(is that a word?) the treads independantly

[how new tanks solved it] the engine could feed turn a generator that would power an electric motor for each tread

finally what if you where to use two smaller engines instead of a large one?

i think for simplicity and weight, the first is the most suitable idea (that i know of)

anyways, just figured i'd fling some ideas at ya'll...

<edit> what if instead of clutches you did something with CVT's...</edit>

George
05-28-2003, 09:50 PM
Hi again,

I think everyone needs to thank Brandon M. & Delphi for
Letting Us use these forums.
Please don't forget them in your next posts.

Dan L.(247) has an interesting point about declines/inclines
(something I missed) add to that holes, (how deep?)
washes, (How deep/steep/wide and whats the other side look
like?) Water (how deep/wide/whats the bottom look like?)
Rocks (how big/high/whats behind it?)
these are the type of Questions We (and the Truck) have to ask.
AND ANSWER!
The sooner the better for the Team

With in Seconds/ at the most, Minutes for the Truck!
( Plus "where am I??", "where do I have to go?", And how do I get there?")

Paul Mentioned ultrasonic sensors, Banner Engineering makes
line of measurement sensors with a 10' range could we gang a bank of these to "draw" a picture of the area?
Something On this line would go a ways in answering some of the questions.

Dose anyone have any experience in this field?
How about a Mentor or (gasp!) parent?
Come-on someone knows about SONAR ARRAYS
Lets Pick some BRAINS!

One of our biggest ADVANTAGES over other teams is the network
that we can create thou our participation in FIRST!

if you notice I keep referring to the vehicle as a "Truck"
all thou other forms may be advantageous(custom chassis,tank treads etc.) the most practical thing is a Truck,
Being out in the dessert, there is a lot of time spent building
sand rails, rock hoppers, trucks, bikes, and other toys.
I will post some pictures of TWO recently completed projects soon.
I am under no delusions about how much work a project like this is.
or how much money it takes.
(a Good rail is about $35,000 from the ground up.)

And for this contest we will in all likelihood build 2 trucks
One just for testing (it will get Hammered!)
and one for the race.
I am hopping to get the trucks donated, But we have to show the Sponsors Something!
(See earlier posts)

Please visit this web site to get an idea of the machine shop backing we have available, Please go to http://www.laron.com
(sorry, I don't know how to make a link)

Please keep adding your IDEAS
Please keep posting
Please ask people that might like to help this program
please recruit

Geo.

P.S.
As for meetings, how about FIRST events?
If we spend the time (WISELY) from now to the first race getting organized,
we could meet at nationals, I will try to bring a vi-do of the run,
And this gives us about a year to build & test for 2005.

THINK, and have FUN!

pauluffel
05-28-2003, 11:17 PM
Truck, eh?
For those of you who read Wired there was an article in the last issue (Stopping Loose Nukes) there was an article about Robert Full and his research into legged robots. He is a professor at Berkley (good location for helping build this) and might be willing to join us on this team (this is also a shout-out to any members of team 225 to recruit his help). I believe that a walking robot would be much more agile than a truck, but it may not be as fast or as able to take a beating and keep going. We need to get an idea as to whether or not something that agile would be able to make up for the lost time by being able to pass through rough areas with no loss of maximun speed. I've never had a chance to hold a good scientific investigation on the geography of the rougher areas in California and Nevada.
Any insights into this dilemma?

sanddrag
05-28-2003, 11:26 PM
Originally posted by pauluffel
Any insights into this dilemma? Yeah, use a truck.:D No, seriously - a Jeep.

George
05-29-2003, 09:35 AM
I still think Truck over Jeep
1) Longer wheel base / more stability
2) More cargo area
3) I might have sponsor (if you have someone willing to donate,
I have no objections to Jeep other than short wheel base, I
have had a Toyota LC (FJ40) for 23 years and if your not careful
your rubber side up with in no time.
You want a longer wheel base, much more forgiving!

Geo.

seanwitte
05-29-2003, 10:21 AM
How about something like this:

http://atvracing1.com/tazcar.htm

Its just an example, there are lots of companies that make sand rail and dune buggy kits. Its less expensive than a late model truck and less complicated to work on.

sanddrag
05-29-2003, 10:37 AM
bI still think Truck over Jeep
1) Longer wheel base / more stability That is true but a truck is more prone to becoming high centered.How about something like this:

http://atvracing1.com/tazcar.htm

Its just an example, there are lots of companies that make sand rail and dune buggy kits. Its less expensive than a late model truck and less complicated to work on. Who said we need a late model truck? All it's got to have is 4x4, automatic, and fuel injection and we'll be set. The sandrails are much less complicated to work on but all sandrails are only two wheel drive. And they can be fairly expensive. It depends on how it's equipped.

ChrisH
05-29-2003, 12:03 PM
I agree, an old beater truck that has a mechanically sound drive train is probably the best value. I'd add power steering and brakes to the list.

As for the body we really don't care. Since it's only function would be to protect the "driver" ,we may be best off to strip it to the frame and fabricate a custom enclosure for the electronics.

BTW did anybody but me notice the reqjuirement for a parking brake operated manually from OUTSIDE the vehicle? Not that I think it will be difficult, just one more thing that needs doing.

Has anybody started a requirements list? We need one soon!

GregTheGreat
05-29-2003, 12:10 PM
Originally posted by ChrisH
BTW did anybody but me notice the reqjuirement for a parking brake operated manually from OUTSIDE the vehicle? Not that I think it will be difficult, just one more thing that needs doing.

Has anybody started a requirements list? We need one soon!

I noticed that also. I guess its just another item to think about. In looking at the whole project that will be one of the easier things to design, once you get an idea of how.

George
05-29-2003, 08:04 PM
Hi everyone,

Chris,
I did not see the "out side parking brake" but I did see they wanted "E" Stops mounted at 4 or more points, (to be designated
later...) although I do not see any problems in doing any of this.
Time to review the rules again.

I think we maybe should leave the cab on, if nothing more than to cut down on work, there should be a drivers compartment with a manual override. Doing this makes sense when you think about moving the truck around, (I don't want to PUSH it UP Hill to the starting line, or to get it unstuck ) it just makes life easier.
As for the roof or the bed,
Form Fallows Function,
but it should look Quality .....
Nobody wants to Sponsor JUNK!

As to high centering the Dutch had a military truck (called a DAFT
if I remember right) that had 2 spair tires mounted in the center of the wheel base, on free wheeling axles.
When you high center, you just roll off!
If high centering becomes a problems maybe we could do something like this?

Has anyone been following the DARPA forum ?

We missed getting in on the magazine story,
I tried, but we haven't got enough "weight" (names,sponsors,etc.--
we don't even have a team yet!)

Chris made the right call in not publishing peoples names that
have not given their approval or permission.

Please take the time to e mail me with this permission and a short resume,
When I get enough "weight" I will go after getting us registered
And pursuing Sponsors

Geo.

sanddrag
05-29-2003, 08:59 PM
Why would anyone post a good idea in the DARPA forum if it is what they are using to potentially win? This challenge is not about sharing like FIRST is.

Another thought came to mind about the vehicle platform. A Mercedes Unimog could work very well and I believe they came in diesel too. However, I don't know what types of transmissions they had and the vehicles are usually expensive and hard to find. A Jeep or truck would probably be just as good.

For front suspension, would you go with solid axle or IFS. Solid axle is more rugged and has more articulation but IFS responds and performs quicker at speed. IFS is much more complicated and more prone to breakage though. We'd have to get some advice/help form a place such as ORU if we went with an IFS setup.

SuperDave
05-30-2003, 12:09 AM
hey everyone,
THE Las Vegas FIRST team 987! well since we are frankly the most active FIRST team in Las Vegas (and possibly the state of Nevada), our team was interviewed on the local ABC station (Channel 13) about the grand challenge. it seems very interesting, lots of money, but we dont have the rescources or the man power to do it on our own, im sure we would be interested though! we hope to soon digitize our interviews (we were also on the same station a year ago for placing 5th in Einstein at nationals). check out our website in the meantime. Anyone at all interested in a possible Las Vegas FIRST Regional or off season event? contact me, our team as early as next season could host an off season event.

AIM - joeassman22

email - see below

later
dave

sanddrag
05-30-2003, 12:40 AM
Originally posted by SuperDave
hey everyone,
THE Las Vegas FIRST team 987! well since we are frankly the most active FIRST team in Las Vegas (and possibly the state of Nevada), our team was interviewed on the local ABC station (Channel 13) about the grand challenge. it seems very interesting, lots of money, but we dont have the rescources or the man power to do it on our own, im sure we would be interested though! we hope to soon digitize our interviews (we were also on the same station a year ago for placing 5th in Einstein at nationals). check out our website in the meantime. Anyone at all interested in a possible Las Vegas FIRST Regional or off season event? contact me, our team as early as next season could host an off season event.

AIM - joeassman22

email - see below

later
dave Hey, remember us from Phoeinix? How you doin'? Anyway, I think you left out your sig by mistake for the e-mail and website.

ChrisH
05-30-2003, 12:33 PM
Originally posted by George
I think we maybe should leave the cab on, if nothing more than to cut down on work, there should be a drivers compartment with a manual override. Doing this makes sense when you think about moving the truck around, (I don't want to PUSH it UP Hill to the starting line, or to get it unstuck ) it just makes life easier.

I agree, especially with the manual override. It would be a lot easier to just drive the thing to a start point than to have to haul it there. But at the same time we should not hold onto a cab or any other bodywork too tightly. If there is a good reason to do things some other way then we should discard the cab. We won't know about good reasons one way or the other for a while yet. We need to get the system a little better defined first.


As to high centering the Dutch had a military truck (called a DAFT
if I remember right) that had 2 spair tires mounted in the center of the wheel base, on free wheeling axles.
When you high center, you just roll off!
If high centering becomes a problems maybe we could do something like this?


That's what I was thinking of. but if we do the navigation package right it shouldn't be an issue. As always we'll solve it in software ;)

George
05-30-2003, 07:35 PM
I agree Chris, I am not "Locked" in to keeping the cab at all
form fallows function and all that...
If we get a "big 4" sponsor we might have to make some "product recognition" allowance

Greg, are you going to the "Sensor Expo"?(see other Delphi thread of this name)
Is anyone in our group? any one we know?

Geo.

How about "learning programs"?

randomperson
05-31-2003, 12:32 PM
Ooh.. this sounds like an interesting project.. some ideas that came to me about navigation:

People are talking about lil sensors to detect hazards.. no. Not gonna work at speeds of 30mph+. What we need is some kind of small radar.. or something with some decent range (100 ft or so). You can have those lil sensors for immediate stuff the radar wont detect.. but yeah.

Run the central command system off a computer (thinking athlon, P4.. ) running linux, it has support for GPS stuff I think in the newer kernels and it isn't going to crash over the 10 hour ride :-). The central system recieves input from several embedded systems providing input (sensors, radar, GPS, temperature, etc..). I think having seperate systems controlling everything would make it easier to debug and etc..

Ok, just my two cents worth.. I had more ideas, but i gotta run for now..

Another plus about using a Linux system as the central command system would be that you can do the navigational programming in practically any language (perl, C/C++, python, basic, asm, sh, etc.. ), thus opening up our project to many more programmers.. since it appears the programming is going to be key. Anyone can build a truck that will drive 250 miles through the desert.. the key is in the electronics

sanddrag
05-31-2003, 01:07 PM
I would argue to have a redundant computer system because it's one thing if your driveshaft breaks but it would look really bad if it failed because a wire melted or a fan got stuck or something like that.

Madison
05-31-2003, 01:28 PM
Originally posted by randomperson
Anyone can build a truck that will drive 250 miles through the desert.. the key is in the electronics [/edit]

I don't believe anyone could do it, honestly.

Granted, a lot of today's technology relies on computers and things to function. A lot of advances in technology have come as a result of breakthroughs in computing. However, it's a bit near-sighted to make it seem like all mechanical challenges have been solved.

The mechanical component of making a car drive itself isn't a walk in the park, by any stretch. It's certainly not impossible, but it's going to require as much effort and ingenuity as programming any computer, GPS, or artificial intelligence.

Sorry, but I tire of the prevalence of this attitude that suggests mechanical design is monkey's work and all success is a miracle of computer programming. Let's show a bit of respect to mechanical design for a change.

DanLevin247
05-31-2003, 05:26 PM
I completley agree with you M. We could produce the most amazing navigation system in the history of mankind, but that would get us nowhere without a vehicle of the same quality!

sanddrag
05-31-2003, 05:34 PM
Originally posted by DanLevin247
I completley agree with you M. We could produce the most amazing navigation system in the history of mankind, but that would get us nowhere without a vehicle of the same quality! And visa versa I'm sure.

randomperson
05-31-2003, 06:28 PM
Hmm.. a redefinition of what I (and others) have said seems to be in order:

Obviously, you cannot do without either component. Each component in of itself would be useless.

However, it seems that building a truck.. car.. buggy.. etc that can drive is rather simple (simply because of the existance of millions of cars and etc), although I confess 250 miles is a stretch. It's just there are so many people who build/repair/make/design/etc cars so that those of us who aren't mechanical engineers don't see how hard it is.

I know that while I can do many different things with computers, I would never dream to even make a simple.. umm.. mechanical thingie :) because its not my specialty. So my apologies for making you mechanical guys seem small or whatever.


And yes, redundant systems.. very good idea :)

randomperson
05-31-2003, 11:20 PM
Ok, I did something obnoxious and started a few new threads.. this thread is so cluttered.. and long.. and etc. We should probably post in seperate thread so we can have some more organization to this project. You know, so you don't have to search through 10 or so pages to find out what you want to know or whats been said or etc.

George
06-02-2003, 10:28 PM
Programing
Money/Sponsors
Navigation
Mechanical

PsiMatt
06-08-2003, 07:08 PM
Well...just make sure that if we implement software controls we also have a hardware backup in case those fail

Also, its not just building the vehicle, because a standard truck can navigate the terrain...but intergrating an efficent and effective navigation system with a vehicle capable of navigating the terrain at the speeds required

randomperson
06-14-2003, 12:17 PM
Hmm.. these posts seem to have been dead for a few days.. anyone got any new stuff? My internet has been down for a week so...

Greg Perkins
06-14-2003, 08:37 PM
hello all fellow first members who are involved


im sorrry i have been meaning to get to writing this earlier....

you probably need someone good in cadd
i can help in that aspect, i have pro-e, and inventor i can make drawings for whoever is doing the machining.

let me know because this is for a great cause, please, this is such a great idea!!



Greg

sanddrag
06-25-2003, 12:04 AM
When is this whole thing going to take off, or is it no more? :confused: I haven't heard anything in quite a while. The summer is here and a lot of us are getting bored so, what's up with the project?

George
06-27-2003, 09:43 PM
HELLO? Is there any one out there?

I have not been posting lately, But i did not expect a dead stop.
I passed up a 85 TOYOTA Truck the other day, the price was right
but , Did every one take the summer off and forget to tell me?

I am still Game for this Challenge but not sure I want to put
out CASH if nobody is going to play.
DARAP forum had a posting about using worm drive stepper
motors for steering, and some talk about speed/turn rate.
Any comments?

This is why I thought it was early to apply for the contest.

The last thing I want to do is tie up resources and then have it all
bottom out.

I REALLY WANT TO PLAY, but WE can't do it alone!

PLEASE POST!

Geo.

sanddrag
06-27-2003, 10:02 PM
I'M POSTING!!! I've been wanting to help with this thing since the start. I found a 1990 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 auto for $2900. It's all in good condition. About that Toyota truck, it's one of my favorite vehicles. I'm just curious as to what the price was.

George
06-28-2003, 09:37 AM
$500, 2WD Auto, Running, Lic, Fair/good body (ugly gray..Paint fix)
fair tires, Good first test platform

One advantage of buying AZ is no smog / low ins.
maybe you can buy something in CA Cheep the dose not pass?
Just as long as it has clean title

Geo.

PsiMatt
07-18-2003, 04:00 AM
Well then...let us begin...we certainly have used enough time for that...

George
07-18-2003, 12:42 PM
Life???? I was wondering.......
Lots to post but no time right now
We have backing from INNOVATION FIRST and MICROCHIP
Details to fallow,
Geo.

pauluffel
07-18-2003, 05:54 PM
I'm still reading this thread and willing to help with anything I can do from here in Georgia (like find a place to hold and organize a meeting for The Grand FIRST Team at Championships here in Atlanta next spring). I don't believe I can supply any monetary support because I'm too busy getting money for my FRC team, but I'd be glad to help with any planning.

Dan Richardson
07-19-2003, 12:47 AM
Dan from team 710 i'm willing to help in anyway I can.. I read about that competition about a year ago and thought it was amazing

I believe however also reading that no one has ever finished the race under the specified rules

Just remember that there will have to be an extreme amount of financial backing and slim chance at winning the million

but I'm still up for this if I can help in ne way

Dan

sanddrag
07-19-2003, 01:40 AM
Originally posted by Stud Man Dan
Dan from team 710 i'm willing to help in anyway I can.. I read about that competition about a year ago and thought it was amazing

but I'm still up for this if I can help in ne way

Dan ditto. I'm still willing to help with anything mechaincal or mechanical design.

As for no one ever having won it, I believe this is the first year they are holding it. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Kevin A
07-27-2003, 09:17 PM
Hello,
If you look at the recent uploads you should see some pics of our car!

Progress...

Kevin A
10-04-2003, 12:05 AM
481 is at it again, we have our DARPA car remote controlled!

Greg Needel
12-24-2003, 10:58 AM
At RIT I am one of the leads on the team and since people have been posing updates I will do the same. We decided back in September that we were going to undergo this project as a conglomeration between 2 of the special interest houses at RIT (Engineering house, and computer science house) as progress was moving along it seemed impossible to get the whole project done for this year so we decided to scale everything down. We are working with a golf cart using real-time vision recognition, gps, and something I can't talk about because of patent restrictions. Our overall goal is to have something that can accurately move cross campus on its own power and intelligence. We moved out of planning stages and have acquired many of our sensors/mechanical devices for assembly start in January. if you would like to check our website for updates the address is darpa.rit.edu (http://darpa.rit.edu) canít say there is much on it right now for the public to see but i have a feeling going the way we are there will be quite an RIT vehicle for next years competition.