Monday, February 19, 2007

Ice Accident

Hi there,

I've got some bad news. Ben will be out of service for a little while. While we were getting Ben setup in front of the Levine loading dock, a large bunch of ice fell off the roof of Fisher Bennett and smashed our windshield, hood, and right mirror. The ladar's were on the roof and one took enough of a hit to knock it cockeyed on it's mount, but it tested ok in the lab afterwards.

The only major problem with Ben is the windshield, it's pretty opaque and obviously compromised. The mirror needs to be replaced. And the hood is cosmetic, but probably a good thing to fix so we don't look like we got into an accident. All other systems are fine.

In the good news. None of us were hurt. As the first smaller stuff came down we moved away. Also, we now successfully have tested LADAR producing elevation maps feeding directly into matlab and then feeding a map to the planner. We were on our way out to record some data to try planning through when the ice fell.

Here are some pictures:


Friday, February 16, 2007

(Great) Testing Results Featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer

We had a really fantastic testing day today - the steering control is now really good and very smooth (no jerking steering wheel etc - it actually looks like a human is driving). We did have a reasonably persistent problem with the GPS jumping near the poles in the car park which is why we have some discrete jumps in the route traces - but this is something that we are investigating several different avenues to solve (new pose system, pose filter changes etc). Hence we got a lot of recorded data using benracer.dangerous (keyboard arrow control of the vehicle controls - great fun) of human driving and throttle/brake characterisation data so we should be able to build a good map of the throttle-brake characteristics to use in a new longitudinal controller.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and photographer met us took photos of Ben and we took the reporter for a spin in the driving seat (with Ben driving) which he seemed to enjoy - read more about it and watch a video of the car here:

However - we also had a minor problem:
We smelt burning plastic in the car and stopped immediately - when we looked in the boot (trunk) we found that we had melted (the casing) *and* fried the wires connecting the 400V inverter to the 12V power supplied from the vehicle.