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.
There’s just one week left until Hackaday Remoticon, our online gathering in place of our traditional in-person conference during this time of social distancing. Joining the more than 20 hands-on workshops that make up the bulk of Remoticon, we’re excited to announce the two keynote speakers who will be taking the virtual stage: Alfred Jones and Kipp Bradford.
Tickets to see these keynote talks, to watch the SMD Challenge, to see hardware demos, and to take part in the show and tell are free, so get yours today!
Head of Mechanical Engineering at Lyft’s Self-Driving Division
Alfred Jones is the Head of Mechanical Engineering at Lyft’s level 5 self-driving division. Level 5 means there are no humans involved in operating the vehicle and it is still capable of driving anywhere a human could have. What goes into modifying a vehicle for this level of self-driving? What processes does his team use to deliver safe automation? And will cars in the near future completely get rid of the driver’s seat? Alfred knows and we’ll be hanging on his every word!
CTO fo Treau
Kipp Bradford is the CTO of Treau, a company bringing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) into the information age. These systems contribute as much as 20% of global emissions each year, so even small efficiency gains stand to have a huge impact. The industry has remained nearly unchanged for decades, and Kipp is at the forefront of evolving the hidden systems found in nearly every building. Will the air conditioner of tomorrow make the one we have today look like a rotary telephone? We look forward to hearing what Kipp has to say about it.
We’re so excited to have these two phenomenal speakers who have also both been involved as expert judges in the Hackaday Prize (Alfred in 2020, Kipp in 2017 and 2018). Help us show our appreciation by packing the virtual lecture halls for their talks on Saturday, November 7th! Get your free ticket now.
Home automation is a fine goal but typically remains confined to lights, blinds, and other things that are relatively stationary and/or electrical in nature. There is a challenge there to be certain, but to really step up your home automation game you’ll need to think outside the box. This automated garbage can that can take itself out, for example, has all the home automation street cred you’d ever need.
The garbage can moves itself by means of a scooter wheel which has a hub motor inside and is powered by a lithium battery, but the real genius of this project is the electronics controlling everything. A Raspberry Pi Zero W is at the center of the build which controls the motor via a driver board and also receives instructions on when to wheel the garbage can out to the curb from an Nvidia Jetson board. That board is needed because the creator, [Ahad Cove], didn’t want to be bothered to tell his garbage can to take itself out or even schedule it. He instead used machine learning to detect when the garbage truck was headed down the street and instruct the garbage can to roll itself out then.
The only other thing to tie this build together was to get the garage door to open automatically for the garbage can. Luckily, [Ahad]’s garage door opener was already equipped with WiFi and had an available app, unbeknownst to him, which made this a surprisingly easy part of the build. If you have a more rudimentary garage door opener, though, there are plenty of options available to get it on the internets.
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.
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.
On yet another one of those long, pointless road trips that seemed to punctuate my life starting when I got my license, I was plying the roads somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania with a friend. He told me that on long trips he’d often relieve the boredom by finding another car from the same state as his destination, and then just follow it. I wasn’t sure then how staring at the same car, hour after hour, mile after mile, would do anything but increase the boredom while making you look sort of creepy, but it seemed to work for him.
What works for college kids in cars also works for long-haul truckers, and the concept of a convoy has long been a fact of life on the road and a part of popular culture. Hardly a trip on the US Interstate goes by without seeing a least two truckers traveling in close formation, partly for companionship and mutual support but also for economic reasons. And now technology is poised to take convoying to the next level, as platooning becomes yet another way to automate the freight.
Before I got a license and a car, getting to and from high school was an ordeal. The hour-long bus ride was awful, as one would expect when sixty adolescents are crammed together with minimal supervision. Avoiding the realities going on around me was a constant chore, aided by frequent mental excursions. One such wandering led me to the conclusion that we high schoolers were nothing but cargo on a delivery truck designed for people. That was a cheery fact to face at the beginning of a school day.
What’s true for a bus full of students is equally true for every city bus, trolley, subway, or long-haul motorcoach you see. People can be freight just as much as pallets of groceries in a semi or a bunch of smiling boxes and envelopes in a brown panel truck. And the same economic factors that we’ve been insisting will make it far more likely that autonomous vehicles will penetrate the freight delivery market before we see self-driving passenger vehicles are at work with people moving. This time on Automate the Freight: what happens when the freight is people?
It should come as no surprise that we here at Hackaday are big boosters of autonomous systems like self-driving vehicles. That’s not to say we’re without a healthy degree of skepticism, and indeed, the whole point of the “Automate the Freight” series is that economic forces will create powerful incentives for companies to build out automated delivery systems before they can afford to capitalize on demand for self-driving passenger vehicles. There’s a path to the glorious day when you can (safely) nap on the way to work, but that path will be paved by shipping and logistics companies with far deeper pockets than the average commuter.
So it was with some interest that we saw a flurry of announcements in the popular press recently regarding automated deliveries. Each by itself wouldn’t be worthy of much attention; companies are always maneuvering to be seen as ahead of the curve on coming trends, and often show off glitzy, over-produced videos and well-crafted press releases as a low-effort way to position themselves as well as to test markets. But seeing three announcements at one time was unusual, and may point to a general feeling by manufacturers that automated deliveries are just around the corner. Plus, each story highlighted advancements in areas specifically covered by “Automate the Freight” articles, so it seemed like a perfect time to review them and perhaps toot our own horn a bit.