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DPRG: linear features

Subject: DPRG: linear features
From: Ralph Tenny rten at polaris.nstar.net
Date: Sat Feb 20 09:41:38 CST 1999

David:
Thanks for the interesting information! I suspect you understand what I
was getting at, but I'll elaborate a bit. 

Item 1: Much of my adult life I have been involved in instrumentation-type 
electronics. I learned early and well from mentors never to trust critical
data associated with sensors, especially from data sheets. (Measure many
times, cut once, so to speak). I have dozens of emitters, sensors, and
other little gadgets, almost all with no specs. Until I can characterize
them to one environment, I have no baseline or confidence to proceed to a 
contest. I have no right to make repeated experiments at a contest or the
will to carry all I would need to do so.

Item 2: Since early in 1960, I have been involved in flying indoor
duration models, with special interest in the international class. In this
area, we have no frequent access to a venue that allows effective test
flying; we must go more than 1000 miles to attend meaningful competition.
For years I have gone to these competitions just for the chance to learn
the true capabilities of my models. As my very close friend with the same
interests says "Sooner or later, the agony begins to exceed the ecstacy."

The closest parallel to my modeling activity: anyone having room to build
a maze for testing has a big advantage at a fire-fighting meet.

It seems to me that the greatest service the club could give to new
roboteers is an opportunity to test at every meeting. Ed has devoted
probably more than a hundred hours to create a contest floor; it will take
a LOT of time to setup for a contest. A 6-foot square that could be set up
in 10 minutes would be very useful. At home, I don't have room for even a
three-foot square surface that can be put up and left for more than a
short time.

On Fri, 19 Feb 1999, David Philip Anderson wrote:

> Howdy
> Dear Stickinthemud:
> 
> 	Did you happen to see the "Robots Alive" special from a year ago
> or so, hosted by Alan Alda (of "MASH" fame)?  They featured an autonomous
> car that worked essentially by recognizing "linear features" rather than
> any kind of lines per se.  So it could track on stripes on the hiway,
> curbs, cracks in the asphalt, edges of the road, anything.  Pretty slick,
> all running from a little TV camera mounted on the dash and a standard 
> PC sitting in the trunk.  
> 
> I bet these are out-of-work defense contractors looking for a new market
> for their wares.  Still, the fact that they can do it with the same kind
> of hardware we have is encouraging.  I've said before, and I truly believe,
> these guys aren't any smarter than us!  (Just better funded.)
> 
> Most of our line followers are actually edge detectors.  How does one
> truly define a line?  What is required to robustly identify one,
> independent of it's width, color, contrast, etc?  Evidently somebody
> has already solved this problem, with a PC no less.  Can we do the same?
> 
> Your fellow stick, (wear that label with pride!),
> dpa
> 

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