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[DPRG] Mini-DARPA beacons, sonar

Subject: [DPRG] Mini-DARPA beacons, sonar
From: Paul Bouchier bouchier at classicnet.net
Date: Wed Jun 30 22:15:20 CDT 2010

Hi John. Depending on accuracy, I'm interested in collaborating with you and
any other roboticists who are also interested. Jonathan & I have developed
wifi router technology suitable for communication from a robot to a PC,
which I'd be willing to share with others. The router runs Linux & uses
standard networking over wifi, and a serial port to talk to Roomba. I think
Roomba would be fine with a 1# mike load + the router & other misc.
electronics. Let's chat off-list.

We allow 3 minutes for a robot to complete the course, so a 45 second pause
or two to recalibrate odometry seems reasonable. I wrote the square dance
contest rules (which appear here
http://www.dprg.org/competitions/roborama.html ) and specifically allowed
beacons, with the intention of encouraging development of localization
techniques. The rules don't have anything to say on teaming.

You mention an accuracy of a few inches. Robots regularly achieve that
accuracy using odometry alone, especially on square dance. Figure 8 seems to
be much harder.

John - I would love to hear a talk to the club on the technology - I think
it would have broad interest. The montly talk schedule is here:
bnIwUnc&hl=en#gid=0 and we're flexible on certain dates. Let me or Ed know
what works for you & we'll find a way to make it happen.

Thanks for the update on your technology.



> -----Original Message-----
> From: dprglist-bounces at dprg.org 
> [mailto:dprglist-bounces at dprg.org] On Behalf Of John Swindle
> Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 6:48 PM
> To: dprglist at dprg.org
> Subject: [DPRG] Mini-DARPA beacons, sonar
> Folks:
> Five years ago, several of you were interested in navigation 
> beacons for your back yards to experiment with a mini-DARPA 
> Challenge. Members suggested using sonar, lasers, infrared, or 
> radio. I suggested using three loudspeakers (the beacons) and a 
> microphone (on the robot), without any radio or laser 
> synchronization. I couldn't get it to work then, but I have it 
> working now. It's like LORAN, but using sound instead of radio.
> I don't want to build a robot, so I wonder if one or more members 
> would like to collaborate on adding the beacon receiver to his or 
> her robot and then win Square Dance and Figure-8. In the arena, 
> the beacons would probably be about 18 feet apart and the robot 
> would drive a 12-foot square. When the robot needed to 
> recalibrate its odometry, the robot would stop and listen. The 
> navigation location data would come from a script running on my 
> PC, but the robot would decide what to do with that data. The 
> robot would need to stop for about 45 seconds for an accurate 
> location. The robot might need to check its location several 
> times (which would take a lot of time), or, since the nav data 
> seem to be very repeatable, the robot could just check to see how 
> close it is to its starting position when it thinks it is 
> finished. Square Dance and Figure-8 are not timed, but I don't 
> know if the 45-second delays are acceptible.
> My PC could either be carried by the robot, or the robot could 
> carry a wireless mic which would be self-powered (no interface to 
> the robot). Somehow, the robot would be told where it is. I don't 
> know what the best interface would be for giving the nav data 
> back to the robot. Someone would have to help me with that part. 
> If the robot doesn't carry my PC, then the interface would likely 
> have to be WiFi. If several members are interested in using the 
> beacons, then the beacons could be set up and left in place 
> during several runs and my PC could send nav data to the robots 
> (somehow).
> I have a few questions for specific folks, such as:
> Paul, Scott Sumner, and Will: I think you have robots that can 
> carry a one-pound wireless microphone or maybe a three-pound PC, 
> right? Are any of you interested in being the platform 
> collaborator? (I mention these guys because they've expressed 
> interest in beacons in the past, and I think they have robots 
> that can carry a payload. I don't mean to play favorites. Anyone 
> can use the beacons.)
> Scott: May I borrow your wireless mic again?
> Paul: If your Roomba platform were used, what does it take to 
> communicate by WiFi to your robot? My script can launch and kill 
> tasks.
> Ron and Dale: To be more real-world, the beacons need to be run 
> as a separate gadget. I could use a second PC to do that, but it 
> would be fun to use a handheld microcontroller instead. I know 
> y'all both do that sort of thing.
> Ed: About the contest rules: Is a contestant really allowed to 
> win Square Dance and Figure-8 with a robot that listens to 
> beacons? (If so, I predict nailing it to within a few inches.) 
> And is there anything special about a collaborated entry? Any 
> limit to the size of the team?
> Ed: I've prepared a slide show. Let me know if you'd like me to 
> present how the beacons work.
> Best to y'all,
> John Swindle
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