Friday, November 30, 2007

The other Ghost Rider, Pt2.

"Norman, as always, drove like a maniac. Norman was young. He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems. He rode the bike with an intense lack of physical grace, as if trying to do algebra with his legs.

...they buzzed up along the road shoulder, the smart bike and sidecar scrunching over the oyster shells with oozy cybernetic ease.

From Distraction, by Bruce Sterling.

The Ghostrider robot is built by the "blue team" (composed of graduate and undergradute students from UC Berkeley as well as faculty and graduate students from Texas A&M.) for the Darpa Robotic Vehicle challenge.

This "Grand Challenge" is intended to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technologies. DARPA and other US agencies are already funding numerous developments in the robotics vehicle domain. This specific endeavor, however, is targeted to find smart solutions that are to be tested in a realistic scenario under challenging race conditions - something that has never been done before on this scale.

In July 2002, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that it would award a cash prize of $1 Million to the team that builds an autonomous robotic ground vehicle that will successfully win a race from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

On March 13, 2004, the Grand Challenge took place with no vehicles completing more than 8 miles autonomously before being disqualified. Nevertheless, the event successfully created a community of engineers, garage enthousihast and students who together took the first steps in private autonomous vehicle development.

There was no winner March 13, 2004. So, DARPA decided to hold a new Grand Challenge on October 8th, 2005 with a $2 million prize.

The Ghost Rider contains thirty two (32) seperate electronic components. Beyond DGPS, we are using only high speed camera as sensor input. The are two types of cameras used onboard. First, a pair of high resolution 1600x1200 ethernet cameras manufactured by Cognex used for creating realtime 3D scene of the obstacles in front of the vehicle. Second a single CCD, high speed (40 Hz), color camera is used for road detection.

Here is the Component Diagram with all connections and logic paths....

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