It's amazing how quickly time flies. It seems like Chibots RoboMagellan 2011 was just 6 months ago. In fact, it has been almost a year. If you are not familiar with the Chibots anual RoboMagellan competition, check out the Chibots website: http://www.chibots.org/?q=node/1799
I could not attend RoboMagellan 2011 but SGarcia wrote a graphic summary of the event, check it out:
If you have never attended a RoboMagellan event, check out this video of Rick Brooks 2010 winning run:
Now that the history lesson is over, lets start thinking about the design. With only a little over a month to finish the robot I decided to be ultra-conservative with the design. A conservative design is a design that has already been done "Good artists copy, great artists steal", Picasso & Steve Jobs.
With that in mind, lets look at past robots: http://find.botmag.com/111109
Summary of robot hardware from the above link
Foxconn Mini-ITX motherboard with dual-core Intel Atom and 2 GB RAM
Gumstix Verdex Pro xm4 Computer On Module (linux kernel 2.6.21) with an Intel PWX270 processor
Parallax Propeller controller
PC – Giada Book PC
Maxbotix ultrasonic rangefinders (4)
Parallax ping ultrasonic rangefinders
MaxBotix XL-EZ1 ultrasonic rangefinder (5)
Sonar – MaxSonar-EZ1 (2)
OceanServer OS5000-S compass and Locosys LS20031 GPS unit
ublox LEA-4H GPS module
Acroname Electronic Compass R117
Honeywell HMC6352 compass
u-Blox 5 based GS407 GPS unit
GPS – Pharos iGPS-500
Webcam - RoboRealm
Ultrasonics only - Rick Brooks
Robo_rabbit uses a webcam but does not mention CV code
Traxxas RC truck
Traxxas Stamped RC truck
Traxxas E-Maxx 16.8V monster R/C truck chassis
After reviewing the above information and reading Rick Brooks very interesting website: http://brooksbots.com/Robomagellan.html
I decided to use a netbook running Windows XP, 5 LV-EZ0 ultrasonic range finders, and a USB GPS receiver / compass from my own SeeBot1. Of-course, I will use a web camera with OpenCV for the cone detection and tracking. Obviously, a RC truck is a good choice for a chassis. Rick Brooks website does a good job of explaining some of the issues with using a RC truck as a robot platform. In addition to the issues Rick brings up, I am using a netbook as my CPU. This would be too big for most regular hobby RC truck chassis.
Fortunately for me, I won the sponsorship of Minds-i last year. I have access to a fully configurable RC truck system. All the benefits of an off the shelf RC truck, plus the benefit of almost complete customability (I know its not a word, but it's in the urban dictionary).
You can think of the Minds-i system as Lego on steroids, or legos for auto mechanics. If you click on the picture above it will take you to the gallery on the Minds-i website. There are some very cool robots built with the Minds-i kit on that site. Check it out: http://www.mymindsi.com/gallery
I have a lot of ideas on how I plan on customizing the chassis using the Minds-i kit. The 6 wheel configuration looks very promising. It would have more than enough suspension to handle the additional weight. This is my project for next week, designing and assembling the chassis.