All About the Google Autonomous Vehicle Project

There have been many self-driving cars made with different levels of success, but probably the most well-known project is the Google car.  What you may not have heard of, though is the autonomous Google cart, or golf cart to be exact. The first video after the break explains the motivation behind the cart and the autonomous vehicle project.  As with another autonomous vehicle we’ve featured before, they didn’t forget to include an E-stop button (at 1:03)!

In the second video (also after the break) Google’s Sebastian Thrun and Chris Urmson get into more of the details of how Google’s more famous autonomous Prius vehicles work and their travels around different towns in California. A safety driver is still used at this point, but the sensor package includes a roof-mounted 64-beam laser sensor, wheel encoder, radars, and a GPS sensor. With Google’s vast resources as well as their work with Streetview and Google maps, it’ll be interesting to see what comes of this technology.  I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.

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Google ADK on an EvalBot

evalbot_google_adk

After learning that Google’s ADK relied on using an Arduino-compatible board, [Benjamin] was disappointed that other microcontroller platforms weren’t invited to the party. Rather than switch camps, he took it upon himself to get the ADK working with his EvalBot. In fact, his modifications should allow the ADK to work with nearly any Stellaris ARM kit.

The hack is composed of two parts. The first, and most important bit is the USB host driver he developed to work with the ADK. The code borrows some bits from Texas Instruments, and will be published on GitHub once he gets a chance to clean up the source a bit. To get his phone working with the EvalBot, he also had tweak the external USB power supply in order to provide the current required to operate properly with other USB-connected hardware.

It’s always nice to have more options when working with Google’s ADK, and [Benjamin’s] work is likely a welcome addition to any Stellaris developers toolkit.

Continue reading to see a quick video of his EvalBot ADK demo.

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Google ADK clones pack a few extra features, hopefully far cheaper than the original

adk_board_clone

[charliex] from Null Space Labs wrote in to share a project that he and the rest of the gang have been working on over the last few weeks. The team has been remixing and building clones of the Google ADK demo board we saw earlier this year, in hopes of getting a huge batch prepped before Defcon 19.

Their version makes subtle changes to the original, such as extra header rows for Mega AVRs, higher quality RGB LEDs, and a nifty pirate-Android logo. They also added the ability for the board to send and receive IR signals allowing it to be used as a TV-B-Gone, as well as in more fruitful pursuits. The Arduino board used with the ADK has only undergone minor revisions, most of which were layout related.

[charliex] hasn’t mentioned a price for their improved ADK boards, but we’re guessing they will be substantially cheaper than the official Google version. In the meantime, check out their site for a boatload of pictures and videos of these boards undergoing various stages of construction.

Importing PCB layout into Google Sketchup

If you’ve been spending hours with the digital calipers while designing enclosures for your circuit boards there may be a better way. [Phil] tipped us off about a new software package that will let you import PCB layout files into Google Sketchup. This way you can start working on the enclosure in CAD before you’ve populated your first board. Of course this adds to the pain of realizing there’s an error in your layout, but what are you going to do?

The free software was developed by RS Components, a European component distributor. It takes IDF files, which can be exported from most PCB design software, and converts them to a format compatible with Sketchup, Google’s 3D design software. For those who enjoy a very dry demonstration video you won’t want to skip seeing what we’ve embedded after the jump.

We’re kind of surprised that this hasn’t already been done. If it has, leave a link in the comments.

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A badge without a conference

We saw this one a few days ago when it was first bouncing around the interwebs but never took a close look at it. Today, when we ran across a direct link in the tips box it was the promo video (embedded after the break) that won us over. Once you dig into the particulars of The Verbalizer we think you’ll agree that this is a hackable conference badge without the pesky need to attend a conference.

As you probably guessed from the design of the PCB, this is a microphone. It’s intended for use with Google’s new voice search feature, and connects to a computer via a Bluetooth module. But really it’s just another roll-your-own Arduino with a few extra bits. You’ll find an ATmega328 and an FTDI chip which provides a USB connection for programming. The real fun starts with the microphone and speaker circuitry which is just waiting to be breadboarded at home. We found a few other things while poking around in the schematic (available by downloading their Product Docs and Schematics package). It looks like there’s some capacitive touch… you what? Isn’t it more fun if you find this stuff yourself, kind of like the hidden gems of the DEFCON badges?

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Mini Google Street View car built from Lego

lego_street_view

[Mark] was playing around with a small GPS sensor when a light bulb lit over his head. He imagined it would be pretty cool to replicate one of Google’s Street View cars at a fraction of the scale using Lego NXT parts. He figured it would be easy enough to rig a few cameras to a remote controlled car, recording images and GPS coordinates as it went along.

The mini Street View car is controlled by a single NXT module that receives commands from a PS2 controller via a PSPNx sensor he purchased. A trio of cameras have been attached to the car, which are meant to take pictures in all different directions when triggered by his remote. A handful of additional motors are also used for driving the car, steering, and for activating the shutter release on the cameras.

The car worked decently during testing, but [Mark] says there is still plenty of room for improvement. He is having issues reliably triggering all cameras at the moment, but we’re sure he’ll have it sorted out soon enough.

Keep reading to see a video of his mini Street View car in action.

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Tablet-controlled disco Droid

disco_droid_adk_control

We have seen a few neat Google ADK projects pop up since its announcement a few weeks back, and this one is already on the list of our favorites.

YouTube user [chrisjrelliot] has put together a great hack demonstrating the ADK’s power and how easy it can be to control devices in real time with an Android-powered device.

He hacked apart an Android figure (naturally) and fitted it with some LED eyes as well as four servos. The servos are used to rotate the head, body, and arms of his Disco Droid, all of which can be controlled via his Android-powered tablet. As you can see in the video below, he is able to control the Droid’s actions in real time with a few simple swipes of his finger. One thing we did notice is that his tablet is not connected to anything via wires, so we are assuming that there’s a Bluetooth module hidden away somewhere in the mix.

While the video is a bit short on details, [Chris] promises that source code and build plans will be published in short order.