AIMing for Automated Vehicles

Paul F. Grayson, AIMing for Automated Vehicles blog, Control Engineering

The U.S. armed forces have had smart weapons for a long time now. It is just recently that they realized they need smart supply trucks. Hi, I am Paul F. Grayson, Team Leader of American Industrial Magic (AIM), one of last remaining teams of the 390 teams that worked on vehicles for the DARPA Grand Challenge series of unmanned vehicle races. AIM is working to save soldiers lives by searching for ways to make driverless Army supply trucks affordable. AIM is funded by donations from individuals like you who want to speed up the fielding of this life-saving technology. With this blog, you can look over my shoulder while I and my team work on  this important technology. You will get a chance to look into the world of unmanned robotic vehicles, see some of the things that I see, and puzzle over the challenges of making vehicles driverless. Welcome to my world!

 

 

Lunchtime project for automation and control engineers

This LeaveMeAloneBox is made of LEGOS. Making one of these (Legos or otherwise) might be a fun lunchtime project for automation and control engineers... before next Halloween? See video.

November 14, 2010


Clockwork LEGO LeaveMeAloneBox, a good for-fun automation project?I saw one of these years ago, around Halloween, on the receptionist's desk at a company I was visiting.  There it was, a tiny shiny black plastic box, not connected to anything.  The unmarked toggle switch was inviting just anyone to flip the switch.  The receptionist was pretending that she did not notice the torment that the presence of the box was causing each of us.

What was the purpose of this box?  Why is the switch unmarked?  Why is it sitting out where just anyone waiting in the lobby could flip the switch? Was it safe to do that?  Who put it there?  Is it a toy?  Is it a Halloween prank?  Who among us is bold enough to just flip the switch and see what happens?

While the debate continued in each of our heads, one among us stepped up to the receptionist’s desk and flipped the switch.  She looked up from her work and smiled so it must have been OK.  The box made the sound of a small high-speed motor and gear train at work, it rumbled a bit and then part of the box opened slowly and a plastic doll arm slowly reached out toward the switch.  By that time we were all crowded around the machine watching it intently as the hand slowly returned the toggle switch to the off position...  then suddenly snapped shut. 

Since everything up until that point had been in slow motion, its sudden rapid movement and loud sound as it snapped shut startled all of us enough that we each made a small jump back from the machine. 

Over the years, I have searched novelty shops for one of these and not found one.

Now through the wonder of the Internet I have discovered a wealth of information about "LeaveMeAloneBoxes.”  Maybe you would be up to the challenge of building one of these yourself - to amaze and astound your friends and co-workers?

Ever see one of these? Send me a photo of yours, and some info, if you build one.

Leave a comment about the LeaveMeAloneBox below - click the link if you don't see the comment area.

GO ROBOTS !

Paul F. Grayson - Chief Engineer, AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL MAGIC, LLC

"Small engine and machinery repair" TC TINKERS 4-H ROBOT CLUB

"Science, Engineering, and Technology" 390 4-Mile Rd. S., Traverse City, MI 49685

pgrayson(at)aimagic.org AIM: aimagic.org

TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/TC_TINKERS_4-H_Robot_Club/

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