I have always had a life goal of making a robot. As a kid I was going to make one from a child’s electric ride-in toy using 74 series logic from a book I had. Later I was going to build one around the Mattel Trax tank toy. Then I got involved with FIRST LEGO League and make dozens of small ones. But my goal to make a “real” robot has never been completed.Many years ago I got interested in the Trinity Fire Fighting robotic competition, but never got around to entering. A year or so ago, I found the Autonomous Vehicle Competition (AVC) sponsored by Sparkfun. So this time, I am making plans for the 2013 competition.
I asked around work and found a few people that will give me limited help. People with FPGA, electrical design, and algorithm expertise. People who truly understand a Kalman filter and walk the Random Walk Error of a gyro means.
I have started to track down a test chassis and sensor. I am also looking into a processor. As an embedded engineer, I have access to lots of technologies most hobbyist never see. At work I play with FPGA, infrared imagers, ARM processors, high end GPS systems, lasers, and other high end toys. I also have an ear to the vendors selling bleeding edge technology. So this robot will likely pull from these areas. Not that I can use company assets for this entry, but I can sure use the knowledge I have gained.
So first up is a processor. I want to use an ARM processor. Of all the processors I have used, this is by far my favorite. But the compiler and JTAG pods are bloody expensive. That is till I learned that there was a GNU toolchain for ARM and that the OpenOCD project has make JTAG affordable. Currently I am picking a cheap development board to make sure it all can work before I buy a much more capable board.