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!

 

 

Robot truck lights; human factors; 4-H Robot Club, for girls

LEDs offer robotic truck advantages, including engineering sustainability; consider the human factors of LED lighting; A new logo reflects fun, to help 4-H Robot Club for girls.

August 13, 2010


J. W. Speaker Corporation’s   LED replacement for Military / Off-Road headlights.LEDs can offer robotic trucks specific advantages, including engineering sustainability; consider the human factors of LED lighting. A new logo reflects fun, to help 4-H Robot Club for girls.

Responding to my request for information about off-road equipment lighting systems, Ben Schroeder - Heavy Duty Specialties, 2982 Rocky Pt. Rd., Pewaukee, WI 53072, < Ben-hds(at)wi.rr.com >, Office: 262-408-5288, Cell: 414-303-0920, Fax: 262-695-2176, http://www.heavydutyspecialties.com, treated the people gathered at American Industrial Magic’s Traverse City, MI workshop to a fantastic light show.  He demonstrated the variety of J. W. Speaker Corporation’s ( http://www.jwspeaker.com ) off road and on road vehicle lighting products by lighting up the night sky with high intensity LED spot lights, headlights, brake lights, marker lights, turn signals, warning flashers and it was amazing. 

The crisp white light of the headlights, their horizon-lighting pattern, and the sheer brightness... of it all was amazing.  It is difficult to believe that these intense lights are related to the tiny dots of light on the control panel of the copying machine.

What we found out about LED lighting that night was that LEDs use solid-state construction, the perfect choice for vehicle applications where bumps and pot holes of Afghanistan would cause traditional headlamps to fail. The LED headlamp, is much “quieter” from an Electromagnetic interference (EMI) perspective).  With no filaments to burn out, no bulbs to change, and no moving parts to fail, LED systems have the lowest maintenance costs of any lighting technology, a major reason for implementing LED technology.

With DoD concerns about improving energy efficiency of defense systems, as mentioned in “U.S. DoD wants energy efficient robots; robot almost misses parade,” it turns out that one of the key technical advantages that LED headlamps have is their energy efficiency.  The growth of vehicle electronics and the ballooning cost of fuel have created a need for high efficiency vehicle components to minimize the load on the alternator and the drain on the battery.  

Human factors of LED headlamps

If you've ever been blinded by oncoming headlamps as I have, you can appreciate just how important it is to minimize glare.  LED headlamps create clear, high-contrast white light which offers excellent visibility.  All of J. W. Speakers LED headlamps are said to be engineered to be easy on the eyes - providing just the right amount (and color) of light to see and be seen by others.  Good lighting of the road ahead is vital to the successful operation of the machine vision system on AIM’s robot truck.

We've all seen news stories about the deadly consequences of falling asleep behind the wheel and it turns out that the type of headlamps used can be a significant factor in either causing or preventing driving fatigue.  This is an important factor in our human driven support vehicles here at AIM.

Studies show that our body's internal clock (called the circadian rhythm) is linked to the cycle of night and day. More specifically, our brains interpret the color temperature of light we're exposed to and then tell the body whether we should be alert or at rest.  Traditional headlamps have a color temperature signature that closely resembles sunset - when our brain tells our body that it is time to prepare for sleep.  LED headlamps, on the other hand, closely mimic the characteristics of a bright noon day sun when the body is most awake.  Watching the demonstration outside of the AIM workshop I felt wide awake even though it was done late at night.  Perhaps the light color was affecting me or was it the spectacle of the light show?

Most other lamps in use today contain hazardous waste in the form of mercury, lead, sodium or other hazardous materials.  LEDs, on the other hand, do not contain any hazardous waste and are completely recyclable - thus eliminating pollution and the danger of related mercury absorption into the environment.  

Every moment that  a military vehicle spends in the shop is time that it isn’t available to support the troops.  LED headlamps are a great solution that can help ensure that downtime for headlamp servicing is minimized (or eliminated altogether) for the life of the vehicle.

TC Tinkers  4-H Robot Club – update

TC Tinkers  4-H Robot Club - girls like engineering funThe TC Tinkers 4-H Gift Shop, their Learn & Earn for Fun and Profit entrepreneur project will be at the Northwestern Michigan Fair from Aug. 7 -14, 2010.  If you are within driving distance you should stop by the Gift Shop and buy a 4-H logo item.  Your purchases help educate the next generation that will soon be running the USA.

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
(231) 883-4463 Cell
pgrayson(at)aimagic.org
AIM: http://aimagic.org
TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/TC_TINKERS_4-H_Robot_Club/
Control Engineering Magazine:  http://controleng.com
Free 4-H club news letter:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TC_TINKERS_4-H_Robot_Club/join