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!

 

 

U.S. DoD wants energy efficient robots; robot almost misses parade

Realizing the cost of energy on the front lines, the U.S. Department of Defense is now making energy efficiency a priority for combat systems, including robotics. Also see: foraging for energy; robot club on parade and the robot that almost missed the float; robotic jobs for kids; and 4-H gift shop.

August 06, 2010


SPAWAR CypherRealizing the cost of energy on the front lines, the U.S. Department of Defense is now making energy efficiency a priority for combat systems, including robotics. Also see: foraging for energy; robot club on parade and the robot that almost missed the float; robotic jobs for kids; and 4-H gift shop.

JP-8, the common fuel for all Army equipment: helicopters, Abrams tanks, trucks, HMMWV's, etc., costs as much as $12 a gallon delivered to the vehicle using it. It has also become apparent that 85% of the fuel that the DoD uses comes from countries that don't like us. Modern soldiers typically each carry 20 lb of batteries into combat. These are all reasons to be concerned about military equipment's energy efficiency. This new requirement also applies to the now double-digit thousands of robots operating with the U.S. armed forces and all future robot purchases.

Foraging for energy

Another move that will affect your military designs is the concept of advanced units living off the land for their energy needs. DoD is looking at the concept of having units forage for the energy they need.  Imagine base camps with solar stills to recycle water, photo-voltaic arrays and windmills to produce the electricity modern military systems use in large quantities, and other sources that were once labeled "alternative" or not considered.

R2D2 by Josh Graham, a work-in-progress displayed in Cherry Festival ParadeTC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club - parade UPDATE

The TC Tinkers built and decorated a hay wagon as a parade float on which to display the Robot works-in-progress that the Members are building for the Northwestern Michigan Fair, Aug. 7-14, 2010. The float had a 4th of July theme in its decorations, with a giant green glitter covered 4-H clover, giving the overall impression that it was a boatload of Robot projects.

The back of most floats in parades here are usually unfinished because after the float has passed, the crowd is looking toward the next float.  The TC Tinkers did their float differently.  The back of the float was covered with the 41 names of the Grand Traverse County 4-H clubs.  The names were on signs, which looked a lot like bumper stickers.  Also, one last robot, who apparently had been late getting there, was trying to climb onto the float from the back.  It was a robot that looked like Wall-e [See the Disney Pixar Wall-e site], with large sad eyes, turning his head to the crowds on each side of the street in an apparent plea for assistance, since he seemed to have a precarious grip on the hay wagon and was having trouble climbing on. Andrew Anthony, one of the adult volunteers and safety observer, walked behind the float and carried on a conversation with the crowd and Wall-e as the parade moved along the route.

The TC Tinkers float was one of the last floats in the parade that had gone on for several hours.  As the TC Tinkers float passed, kids snapped out of their heat-stroke-glazed-look and spontaneously said "Wall-e !”  Even some of the more heatstressed adults couldn't stop themselves from shouting out "Wall-e!," nudging their companions and pointing as the TC Tinkers float moved farther away down the parade route. One young person so overcome by Wall-e's apparent predicament ran out of the crowd and chased after to float to try to help Wall-e get onto the float. The parents were running after the youngster and returned him to the sidewalk.

Jobs for kids; technology for fun

The Learn & Earn for Fun and Profit business that the TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club Members formed (ages 5 to 19) mailed out its first dividend checks Friday 7/23/2010. The Members formed a partnership where profits are shared based on the documented hours each Member has put in during the accounting period. The company operates out of a portable building, much like a newsstand, that Members can transport in a mini-van and assemble at selling events. The products they are selling are 4-H logo items and items that other 4-H clubs have made to sell on consignment through the TC Tinkers 4-H Gift Shop. Checks also went out to pay the Michigan Sales Tax on the taxable sales so far and the first installment was made in paying back the seed money loan from the Gr. Traverse County 4-H. Watch for the TC Tinkers 4-H Gift Shop anywhere within easy driving distance of Traverse City. It will also be in operation at the Northwestern Michigan Fair Aug. 7-14, 2010.

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@aimagic.org

AIM: aimagic.org

TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/TC_TINKERS_4-H_Robot_Club/

Control Engineering Magazine: www.controleng.com

Free 4-H club news letter:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TC_TINKERS_4-H_Robot_Club/join