Robo Car Via 3G

[Emil Kalstø] has a pretty solid remote control car. We don’t mean a little car with a handheld remote you can drive around the neighborhood. [Emil’s] car has a camera and a cell phone so that it can go anywhere there’s 3G or 4G networking available.

The video (see below) shows the results (along with [Emil’s] little brother acting as a safety officer). The video offers tantalizing detail you might find useful if you want to reproduce a similar vehicle. However, it stops short of providing complete details.

The two batteries onboard will power the vehicle for over 20 hours of continuous use. The 30W motor is reduced with a chain drive to go about “walking speed.” There’s a Raspberry Pi with a Huawei 3G USB dongle onboard and [Emil] uses an XBox controller to do the steering from the warmth of his living room. Of course, a Pi can’t handle a big motor like that directly, so a Phidgets USB motor controller does the hard work. The software is written using Node.js.

The camera mount can swivel 230 degrees on a servo so that the operator can scan the road ahead. The video mentions that steering the car required a heavy-duty servo with metal gears (an earlier attempt with nylon gears didn’t work out).

Overall, it looks like a solid build. We hope [Emil] will share code and more details soon. If you can’t wait (and your insurance is paid up), you might have a go at an even bigger car. Surprisingly, there’s more than one example of that.

20 thoughts on “Robo Car Via 3G

  1. I can’t play with drones where I am due to a no drone zone so this project looks very interesting. So long as it stays under 20 km/hr I guess it is allowed to go anywhere in a public place? Better not strap a clock radio on the top of it though…

      1. Sorry but I have no idea about what you have on your statutes of law, it would depend on speed and if it is on a road or a foot path. Slow and on the foot path or wherever people can ride mobility assistance vehicles was what I was thinking. The local cops may stop it anyway, just because they can so it may be smart to ask them first. Respect begets respect etc..

      2. For clock radios: make sure your skin is at least coffee with milk colored before putting one. Then, after putting the clock radio you’ll get a bureaucratic procedure where a few agents of the law will be interested in your project.
        That’s when the hue-check of your outer human sleeve is important. If you are just milk hue you will not get free tuition and gifts.

        For drones: Just use them on private property, and low. Indoors preferably. Cause the drone-mania scare is on, like donkey kong ♫

    1. Driving a 3G/2G drone car in public is a very bad idea because the connection can glitch at any time and your rover may do erratic things like dive under a bus, or run into someone’s heels and push them over.

      Best done on private property.

      1. I personally wouldn’t do it without putting a little AI on board to cover such scenarios. I’d also add a PV array on top so at worst it had to recharge for a day or so before coming home, or whatever. Plus the usual blinking lights and other safety stuff. And if the local police say no-way-not-ever then I’d stick to the ample parkland areas we have here. If you ran it in a congested urban area it would probably get mugged anyway. http://www.dailydot.com/technology/hitchbot-robot-destroyed-philadelphia/

        1. Might be a tad easier being a ground driving robot to make it unmuggable (300 pounds worth of battery, steel enclosure, and tamper proof screws will do that.) Not to mention the ability to just move away from the bad people.

        2. “I personally wouldn’t do it without putting a little AI on board to cover such scenarios.”

          Then you have to trust the AI doesn’t glitch out because your program crashed. That’s not to say it can’t be done in a responsible manner, but to say that a “Raspberry Pi with a Huawei 3G USB dongle” isn’t the sort of hardware you can trust someone’s life on.

          Especially when you’re running your control logic on node.js. That’s the mechatronic engineering’s equivalent of a jenga tower; it’s not exactly what one could call “deterministic”.

    1. Agreed. I’ve been putting that method Into practice since 2007. PPTP VPN via Verizon’s 3G network. Still use it today with OpenVpn and LTE. Never had to fuss with the extra fees…and with a little keep alive script…it can be really reliable.

  2. This is awesome but I bet the data-plan is insane. I guess shortwave is the only alternative though.

    It needs bigger diameter wheels and a 2+ speed transmission to save battery. I’d probably try to make it carry freight.

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