Sorry for any misspelled words or grammar will re-edit later. Wanted to get this posted.
videos of the robot can be found at: http://www.phantasm1.com/videos.html
Take a look to see Ladibug in action.
My first step was to remove all of the plastic coverings and human interface components. like handle bars, seat, foot rests etc. I then had to build a deck or platform to hold all of the computer equipment, motor controllers, and sensors. In this picture you can see the steering has been installed with a large motor scavenged from an electric wheel chair. I added a custom mount for the large diameter sprocket where the handle bars were. then used parts left over from my sons Trampoline to build the roll cage. and support for the decking, also mounted just forward of the steering is the small blue box that is the motor controller built by Roboteq. This controller could handle 24 volts at a max amp rating of 120 for the steering.
In this picture you can see myself adding the radar sensor, and the air tank as well as the emergency stop control box. at the top of the robot is the main P.C. on the second deck above the steering. We also added a small compressor for operating the breaking system. the breaks were controlled by a solenoid that operated a large air cylinder that would push the break peddle to stop the robot. It could also be locked into position for safety. This was a one of the reasons we wanted to use an automatic transmission it eliminated the need to operate the clutch when stopping or breaking. The Radar was provided to us by Epsilon Lambda electronics corp. cost 15000.00 USD. Installation was straight forward. mount and shoot. the software that was provided worked well and gave us good echo return for obstacle avoidance. Sonar was a little more complex. Timing is everything with sonar as you can guess. Sonar works by chirping a signal or sound from the small transducers at the front of the robot, then listening for a return if one is received then there is an obstacle the time of flight of the signal for the ping to the return tells the robot how far the object is and at what general direction relative to the transducer the object can be found. Now the amount of data that has to be sifted through as you can imagine is overwhelming, and you add to that the inferred data and radar data and GPS data. etc. you end up with to much to process in the short time a reaction to the obstacle can be served up. What do you do? well what we did is tell the computer to ignore any data that was outside i given track and boundary that cut down dramatically or data overflow. we also instructed the computer to ignore obstacles of a given size and smaller. again net gain was achieved. knowing your environment that you intend to operate in is of the most importance. You can now see how difficult the Grand Challenge was.
Keep in mind that hardware is only part of the robot. without software you have nothing but a topic of discussion. Your robot will never go anywhare. So having a good programer or mentor is very important, never be embarrassed to ask for help. There is a large amount of programs out there that are free and can give you a head start in any remote controlled device. Weather you are fully autonomous or just use a remote to control you robot.
In this picture you can see all the systems completed. At the very top is the siren, and the signal light. Just below is the PC. To the right of the tan PC box is the small Black Cube, this is the scanning radar system. It would scan left to right and was mounted on an adjustable gimble to raise or lower the radar depending on the terrain. Forward of the radar is the reserve air tank. This was filled by the small on board compressor and was used for the breaking system. at the rear of the robot is the fuel tank. We added a larger 15 gallon tank for the long distance race requirements. this was tied into the tank on board the ATV.
In this picture we were getting ready for race trials and testing of all the system at a secured location for safty. Love those tank treads...They were provided by our sponsor Mattrax. cost 5000.00. They are a very stable platform for the robot, they added massive footprint and a dramatic gain in traction on sand and dirt. well beyond a typical tire would. and the environmental Impact was greatly reduced due to the larger foot print of the tracks. Another feature of the tracks was the added gear reduction given to the drive train, this lowered the overall rpm of the motor given difficult terrain and helped lower fuel consumption in these difficult areas.
My brother and I were adding the body pannels to the robot prior to race day. Getting ready for paint job.
All painted ready for loading on the trailer for the trip to California and the Darpa Grand Challenge. Notice the spoted paint job. making our robot look like a Ladybug.
thus the name of the robot. LADIBUG. (long range, autonomous, directional intuitive, boundary sensing, unmanned, ground vehicle).
Now that's a mouthful.
Race day first attempt at fully autonomouse run.