Sunday, June 7, 2009

So it's been a while...

Well, after five months I'm blogging again. Only very recently did I make any tangible progress over what's been previously posted. Now things are rolling again, and there's a lot to report from the past month or so of work, so I'll elaborate those over the next little while.

First, what you really want to see: a video.

Here you see Snowtires in its new form doing a lap at the Thunderbird robotics club practice intramurals race day. We set up a race to mock up the conditions of the actual Waterloo race in order to test the robots under realistic conditions. The robots need to do laps of a concrete course lined with the usual orange cones. Doing this outside introduces some new challenges, namely, outside there's an abundance of IR radiation going around, which completely blinds the camera if not filtered. To this effect I installed a mirror-finish sunglass lens and a pair of polarizing filters to reduce glare and block IR. This dims the image enough for effective vision even under direct sunlight. The camera is now on a pan-tilt unit mounted front and center on the chassis. It is coupled to a new guidance system that I will elaborate on later. Other modifications include the replacement of the Arduino-based chassis controller with a Furious Module: a USB-based servo and sensor controller designed by the team's own Ash McKay (for details see: his website).

Snowtires won the practice race by completing three laps of the course with only a single error. At the moment the guidance system only works at very low speed: I'll be attempting to improve that as time goes on, but we're getting close to the July 11th competition date. Other requirements: a stop sign detector, a stop light detector, and a purple-object avoidance routine. TIme to get back to work...

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