RC cars are a fun pastime, but for many hackers, taking things to the next level involves making the cars drive themselves. For his Masters thesis, [Jon] did just that, building a self-driving robot truck that confidently cruises the floor of his laboratory.
The truck is based on a 1/14th scale Tamiya chassis, and had been fitted out by a prior group with an inductive charging system. On top of this platform, [Jon] added a Jetson TX2 to act as the brains of the system, hooking it up with a Slamtec RPLIDAR scanner to map its surrounding environment. There’s also a Teensy microcontroller onboard which handles synthesizing PWM signals for the radio control hardware that drives the truck, and a Logitech webcam up front for machine vision. The truck is capable of operating in a variety of modes, from full manual operation, to driving based on LIDAR mapping or with an AI controlling the truck based on camera data. The truck is programmed to drive a route including an inductive charging pad so it can keep its power levels up without human intervention.
It’s a great blueprint for a self-driving system, and [Jon]’s thesis goes into great detail on how everything works at the base level (available on this page as a 67 MB PDF). His Code is on Github for the curious. We’ve seen similar projects before too, like this robot that navigates its builder’s house using LIDAR. Video after the break.