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DresnerRobotics
12-20-2008, 10:54 PM
So I've been thinking a lot about what sensors I want to add onto my Mech to assist navigation via remote control. We'll all have cameras obviously, but if you've ever operated a telepresence bot, you'll know its not the easiest thing in the world. Factor in buildings, and the fact that we'll be needing to aim at something else firing at us, and it is going to get tricky.... I'd like to openly brainstorm some ideas with you guys.

1) First and foremost, I think multiple IRPDs or Sonar units would help tremendously, I'm not talking for autonomous navigation, but rather to give you a sense of depth and an idea of how close surrounding buildings and objects are. Even a numerical display would help, but a visual one would be even better. This is at the top of my list, the Rovio has something similar though its fairly crude, just shows when youre about to hit something in front, I would love to have forward, left, right, and rear sensors with a visual indication of how close objects are to my Mech.

2) Obviously any kind of radar is out of the question. In Mechwarrior, the radar there picked up on heat signatures from the reactors of other Mechs and actually placed them on a RADAR like display, so you knew where all enemy units were within a 5 km range. This sort of thing would be awesome, but technologically not feasible in the slightest, nor would it help mech with the smaller arenas we're using.

3) Audio would probably help, especially if it were directional. You wouldn't be able to use it well whilst walking, but if you stopped and listened, you might be able to determine the general direction your opponent is coming from.

4) Damage reports, something to flash red when your taking hits. We'll have access to the target sensors output, so we'll know when we take hits of course, as well as how many HP we have remaining. Jon has been really busy this winter, but is still working on these units for us. Knowing when and where youre being hit is definitely something that will provide useful.

5) Mapping. The arena design will be simple and predetermined for the most part. I'm estimating 6-8 buildings total. I have no qualms about installing markers or beacons on the floor or ceiling for use in localization. Thoughts?

6) This one is something Adrenalynn brought up, not sure how feasible it will be in real world but it might be worth a shot. Thermopile arrays. Firefighting bots live by these things, and apparently they can even work through thin ply or cardboard (buildings are likely going to be made of very thin ply). They can be set to look for any temperature range, do you guys think it would be possible to use them to pick up the heat coming off of battery packs and servos? I've even seen an 8 sensor thermopile array that interfaces with a pan servo and can do rough thermal imaging....

Anyway, just some food for thought. Would love to hear what you guys have cooking or any commentary on the ideas posted above.

jes1510
12-20-2008, 11:11 PM
Personally I plan on having ammo counts and reloading indicators. The cannons I'm using are kind of slow so a HUD indicator telling me when they are reloading will be helpful. Some kind of an ammo count will be helpful as well.

I am considering a compass for orientation but it's a low priority right now. I was also considering the proximity sensors but I'm not sure how to implement them.

Would the ambient heat (lights, people, etc) not mask most mechs to a thermopile array?

darkback2
12-20-2008, 11:46 PM
Right now charlie's camera is mounted on her head. The lens isn't the widest angle in the world, and because the camera is low and way out infront, it makes maneuvering incredibly difficult. To fix this I'm probably going to add two IR sensors to the widest point of the body probably on the front of the legs. I'm thinking of adding some intesity meters on the sides of the display computer which will show if there are any objects infront of the legs. As for sighting I'm hoping to have a laser pointer with an X lense on it pointing in the same general direction as the gun. The camera and gun both move side to side together already which should help to some degree.

I suppose having the camera mounted in a different place would be better, but I'm also going for some sort of astheatic appeal. I'm also thinking of building a second mech...I suppose if I do I'll try to fix all the things I did wrong with this one...I don't know though...maybe one is enough.

DB

elios
12-21-2008, 12:12 AM
I'm going to try the whole pilot augmentation thing with a point, shoot, aim type of thing so i don't have to do too much work with controlling the mech. i think i might have a target tracker, that uses a a camera/webcam to track proximity etc. i might design something for measuring distance. im thinking that i might measure a general, easy to find bracket that all mechs will be using, and place it at several intervals to try and get accurate distance so that the mech can judge ballastic drop etc.

thanks for listening to my waffle... lol

metaform3d
12-21-2008, 01:58 AM
Radar should be possible using down-pointing cameras. One method would be to put markers on the tops of each mech which allow them to be easily identified, and could perhaps determine which direction they are facing. The other method would just be to subtract from the image of an empty arena and isolate the blobs.

With an open-topped arena a single high camera could take in the whole field. In a more closed space (or to reduce parallax) multiple cameras could be used and results from each combined. Detection might be intermittent, so blips might appear and disappear and be confused with noise. Which would be cool.

Adrenalynn
12-21-2008, 02:01 AM
I'm using a fisheye 120deg lens on my indoor navigation system. I'm correcting the fisheye algorithmically. It actually works pretty darned well. It's not too much different than the software I've written historically to correct super-wide-angle lenses on DVR's.

darkback2
12-21-2008, 02:54 AM
I'm using a fisheye 120deg lens on my indoor navigation system. I'm correcting the fisheye algorithmically. It actually works pretty darned well. It's not too much different than the software I've written historically to correct super-wide-angle lenses on DVR's.

Is there anything you can't do?

elios
12-21-2008, 03:19 AM
you should be asking what she hasnt done

Adrenalynn
12-21-2008, 03:43 AM
Lots of things. Make money at the moment, it seems. ;) This is in my core space, as advertised, though. Video encoding, compression, streaming, and manipulation - every patent I've managed to have go through is in that space... [Well, that and Encryption - but they're pretty closely related anyway]

gdubb2
12-21-2008, 12:26 PM
I haven't tried wandering around the floor with only the camera view yet. (haven't mounted the cam yet). I plan on mounting the camera on the nose of Bheka to a servo. The guns are mounted a little back of center. The guns and camera will rotate in sync with each other, although I'm going to try using the camera without elevation movement. Probably have it pointed slightly up anyway. I have a laser pointer mounted to the guns. Hopefully I will be able to see the laser dot.

To hopefully avoid getting really lost in the environment, I have a button on my controllers that bring the guns and camera servos back to the center position. I had thought about rotating the camera separately to just look around, but figured that there just might be something in the lookaround to shoot at.

I tried to set my guns and laser so that everything comes together at about 5 or 6 feet. Redneck bore sight = 3 ft dowell stuck in each barrel, index card stuck on the end of the sticks with a center point marked for the laser.. adjust laser.. little high..little low.. ahh thats close enough.

Adrenalynn
12-21-2008, 03:31 PM
Have you looked at Free-track yet, GDubb? You'd be able to look around but never get "lost" that way.

gdubb2
12-21-2008, 03:43 PM
I haven't.. But I will.. Thanks

Shepherd
12-22-2008, 10:01 PM
One could build a fuzzy Radar you spoke of using a fixed digital map of the arena and a triangulation of position based on marker position Tyberius. Adding a PIR sensor especially a multi-segment PIR could assist in marking targets approaching from the rear.

Once one has a fuzzy radar, automated motion limitations could be implemented as well that would prevent the bot from counting points against itself due to course collisions.

From the flip side of the the task...

A quick review of the rules didn't seem to bar attempts of blinding your opponents cameras with a diffused laser or alternative light sources (IR). Admittedly I have only glanced thought the rules thread but, if blinding is within the rules a duplicating the PIR array on the front and incorporating the triangulation with the rear camera could be critical elements, for escaping a turkey shoot when you get dazed.

Either way though, it's not a sensor per se, but nothing liking blinding the opposition to tilt the tables. Not a topic i have had much reason to play around with but there seems to be plenty out there that might warrant a modification/clarification of the rules or at least the consideration of a counter measure.

-Best Of Luck

DresnerRobotics
12-22-2008, 10:20 PM
I meant to add that to the rules at some point, it was brought up before and discussed a bit. Ultimately ruled that it wouldn't be allowed. Id prefer these fights be based around fighting, rather than trying to blind/irritate your opponent. Given that were being forced to use cameras, I think catering to their technological vulnerabilities to keep things fair and not 'he with the biggest IR cannon wins' is appropriate.

I'll update the rules soon, thanks for the reminder.

Edit; Welcome to the forums btw Shepard! I appreciate your input!

lnxfergy
12-22-2008, 10:23 PM
I meant to add that to the rules at some point, it was brought up before and discussed a bit. Ultimately ruled that it wouldn't be allowed. Id prefer these fights be based around fighting, rather than trying to blind/irritate your opponent. Given that were being forced to use cameras, I think catering to their technological vulnerabilities to keep things fair and not 'he with the biggest IR cannon wins' is appropriate.

I'll update the rules soon, thanks for the reminder.

Tyberius,

It's probably appropriate, especially being this is the first year of the competition and there are likely many ideas such as this that you cannot specifically address, to have some "spirit of the contest" clause that rules out technologies that are against the spirit of the contest.

-Fergs

DresnerRobotics
12-22-2008, 10:36 PM
Tyberius,

It's probably appropriate, especially being this is the first year of the competition and there are likely many ideas such as this that you cannot specifically address, to have some "spirit of the contest" clause that rules out technologies that are against the spirit of the contest.

-Fergs

I actually do have such a clause posted on top of the rules on the site: http://mech-warfare.com/rules.aspx

"All Mechs are subject to final approval by an official before competing, and may be rejected if considered unsafe for human bystanders or not keeping in the spirit of the event."

lnxfergy
12-22-2008, 10:39 PM
I actually do have such a clause posted on top of the rules on the site: http://mech-warfare.com/rules.aspx

"All Mechs are subject to final approval by an official before competing, and may be rejected if considered unsafe for human bystanders or not keeping in the spirit of the event."

Cool, I hadn't actually read the rules in a while....

-Fergs

DresnerRobotics
12-22-2008, 10:42 PM
I havent updated them in quite awhile to be honest. The ground rules are there, not a ton has changed since, and I've personally been spending all of me free time building a robot that I won't grow bored of for a few years ;)

MSpurk
12-26-2008, 09:36 PM
This is just an idea, but if at the event it proves to be too difficult to locate multiple bots you could just have a spotter calling out the other bot locations. Similar to a base calling in to the Mech with updated radar information.

-Matt-
Cutting-Edge Robotics