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!



Domestic help a step closer; Technology on Parade

April 02, 2010


Towel folding is one of the core copentencies you would want your French Maid robot housekeeper to have.  A lot of man-hours go into folding clothes, it is just one of those chores of living that a robot would need to know how to do if it was going to be helpful around the house, or around the shop.   Yes, it seems like a simple task at first, but getting a robot to do it is challenging problem.   The problem was solved with the support of the National Science Foundation grant IIS-0904672 using the Willow Garage PS-2 robot. If you watch the video you will see how clever their robot design is, in motion.  To get your hands on one of these robots, contact Willow Garage.

Willow Garage, Inc.,
68 Willow Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 475-2700, FAX (650) 475-2828

US FIRST and 4-H in high level negotiations

The FIRST robot competition and 4-H have similar goals and are competing for the hearts and minds, and spare time of the same kids so there are some high level meetings going on to see if FIRST and 4-H can join forces in their efforts to get the next generation interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. 

No kid wants to be in a classroom for 16 hours a day, but they do want to be learning the whole time they are awake, it is in their nature to do so.  Kids learning things is usually seen by adults as them “Playing”.   Kids play.  Kids will play the entire time they are awake if you let them.  Kids will put off going to bed if they can play some more.  What we need to do as adults is provide kids with fun things they can play with that will allow them to learn the lessons they need to learn to take over running the world when we are gone.

While putting kids in school is convenient for us, it is not the complete solution to educating the next generation.  Kids spend more than half their time outside of school.  Some parts of the subjects they need to learn are best learned by doing rather than sitting at a desk being lectured to.   Come to think of it, playing would be a fun way for us oldsters to learn too.  You can join a 4-H technology club in your area, or form one.  To find out more about what is happening in the county where you live, check ou the 4-H website:


A 4 ton hay wagon with 20′ bed was recommended by Larry at Tractor Supply.  A long time farmer in the area, Larry is raising long horn cattle.  He said that salesmen would try to sell me a heavier running gear but the lightest and least expensive made are the 4 ton capacity.  The running gear will cost about $600 with another $400 for support and decking, so it all comes out to be about $1,000.  Looking at the schedule that the kids would like to participate in, and comparing that to the farming schedule, it looks like the farmers are all going to need their wagons at the same time the TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club want to be in parades, so we need to find one of our own.  If you know of anyone who has a hay wagon that they would like to donate to 4-H for use as a parade float, please have them contact me.  Parade season is rapidly approaching and it would be fun and educational for the kids to participate in these events.


Keep track of TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club developments by joining their Yahoo Newsgroup at:

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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 49686-8411
(231) 883-4463 Cell
TC Tinkers 4-H Robot Club:
CE Magazine:

Posted by Paul F. Grayson on April 1, 2010

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