Autonomous Rover Navigates The House With LIDAR

For those wishing to explore robot autonomy, there’s no better way then to learn by doing. [Greg] was in that camp, and decided to build an autonomous rover to roam his house, and learned plenty along the way.

[Greg]’s aims with the project were to build a robot that was capable of navigating his home without external assistance. To do the job, a Raspberry Pi 3 was put in charge, and kitted out with a LIDAR for mapping. Pololu Roboclaw motor controllers are then used to allow the Raspberry Pi to drive the robot’s individual wheel motors, giving the four-wheeled bot skid steering capability.

[Greg] goes into immense detail on the project’s writeup, exploring the code and concepts behind its autonomous abilities. Creating a robot that can navigate using LIDAR is no easy task, but [Greg] does a great job of explaining how it all works, and why.

It’s not the first autonomous rover we’ve seen here, and we’re sure it won’t be the last. If you’ve got your own build coming together in the lab, be sure to let us know. Video after the break.

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Autonomous Off-Road Food Delivery With Pixhawk

It should come as no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked renewed interest in robotic deliveries. Amazon saying they would some day land Prime orders in your backyard with a drone sounded pretty fanciful a few years ago, but now that traditional delivery services are under enormous strain and people are looking to avoid as much human contact as possible, it’s starting to make a lot more sense.

Pro Tip: Avoid drifting while towing seafood.

Now to be clear, we don’t think you’ll be seeing this modified RC truck rolling up your driveway with a pizza in tow anytime soon. But the experiments that [Sean] has been doing with it are certainly interesting, and show just how far autonomous rover technology has progressed at the hobbyist level. Whether you need to move some sushi or a sensor package, his build is a great starting point for anyone interested in DIY robotic ground vehicles.

Especially if you want to take things off the beaten path once and awhile. By combining the Pixhawk autopilot system with an off-road RC truck by Traxxas, [Sean] has created a delivery bot that’s not afraid of a little mud. Or even the occasional jump, should the need arise. Just don’t expect your shrimp cocktail and champagne to arrive in one piece after they’ve been given the Dukes of Hazzard treatment.

In the video after the break [Sean] goes over some of the lessons learned on this build, including how he managed to keep the electronics from cooking themselves in the Texas heat. He also goes over the realities of building an autonomous driving system that doesn’t actually have a camera onboard; sure you can plan a route for it in advance, but all bets are off if an unexpected obstacle blocks the path. It’s a pretty serious shortcoming he’s looking to address in the future, as well as upgrading to a far more accurate RTK-GPS receiver.

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Mustachioed Rover Simultaneously Manly, Adorable

[Rick], an Adafruit learning system contributor, is excited by the implications of STEM’s reach into K-12 education. He was inspired to design Red Rover, a low-cost robot that can be easily replicated by anyone with access to a 3-D printer.

This adorable autonomous rover is based on the adafruit Trinket microcontroller, but will also rove under the power of an Arduino micro. It really is quite simple—the Trinket drives two continuous rotation micro servos and pretty much any flavor of rangefinder you like. [Rick] tested it with Parallax PING))), Maxbotix, and Grove sensors, and they all worked just fine.

What’s truly awesome about Red Rover are the track treads. [Rick] initially experimented with flexible filament. While he had good results, it was not a cost-effective solution. What you see in the picture and the short video after the break are actually rubber bracelets from Oriental Trading.

The plastic part count comes in at seven, all of which can be printed together at once. [Rick]’s gallery includes both small and large chassis and three different servo mounts. The Red Rover guide builds on other adafruit guides for Trinket general use, servo modification, and Trinket-specific servo control.

Update: Added [Rick]’s demo video after the break!

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Crazy Holidays Extra


After sushi-thanksgiving at my house, I’m beat – but you guys have been busy on the tips line.

In one of those special moments of vengance, the ‘real’ ps3 grill was created. (It’s been built, don’t be fooled by the fund raising graphic they were too lazy to remove.)

In another moment of consumer electronics death, a 25mw 405nm laser was obtained from a blu-ray DVD burner and turned into the closest thing to a light saber I’ve seen.

[James Coxon] sent in his autonomous RC car project (link dead, try Internet Archive). I found his Pegasus high altitude balloon project even more interesting.

If you haven’t already heard about it, if you can hack this ps3, you’ll actually get to own it. Thanks [good4me] and [wierdguy].

[Chris_rybitski] sent in his music syncro’d christmas light control – he runs the AC audio into diode rectifier to drive a SSR.

If you really hate squirells, [Alexiy] thinkgs you might find a remote controlled airsoft gun handy.

Don’t forget to check out the Hack-A-Day Design Challenge. I already announced the iPod, the MAKE controller and Daisy MP3 player kit, but look for another prize announcement soon.

Let the holiday geekery continue!