Some of the most technically advanced and highly demanded skills of today fall under the loose category of autonomous vehicles and IoT. Autonomous robotics will be the future in solving many more human problems than we may realize despite being aware of these technologies existing.
The larger these networks grow, the more important it is to track behavior and data. We wanted to take on the challenge of making a dashboard for IoT-type devices and autonomous vehicles. One main problem we used as inspiration for this hack is best described in this video.
What it does
We have three things: a car, a "sniper" tower, and a real-time data-streaming dashboard. The car can be commanded from the dashboard and all of the sensor data is being polled using HTTP GET and POST requests. We are intending to track the X and Z position (both will be in the same plane) using the sonar sensor's distance reading and an algorithm that takes advantage of parallax to keep it in sight. We hope you enjoy the show!
How we built it
Knowing a thing or two about web development and circuit analysis certainly helps as well (:
Challenges we ran into
An INCREDIBLE amount of roadblocks were encountered. An hour or two was spent working on / setting up networking workarounds for the Spark Core's. We had an issue with our Particle products being claimed by others' accounts and had to find alternative hardware in some cases, one of our Core's simply wouldn't work at all.
Some logic-level trouble ensued, the Core operates at 3.3V and the L293D motor driver IC requires a 5V logic signal reference input, luckily PWMing a 3.3V digital pin counts as logic high on a 5V logic level system!
Custom circuitry issues reared their heads, and powering a project like this is a challenge. The motors are 6V DC motors, the LED strip operates nominally at 12V and the Vin of a Spark Core ideally has it's voltage pre-regulated. Luckily we brought quite a few components!
The frontend and backend also posed their respective challenges:
_ "This project was way too ambitious." - Spencer Fricke, CCD Web Developer _
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Driving the car around using the web interface over WiFi, tracking objects with the dual sonar sensor configuration, beautiful data visualization, and working together as a team to piece together very different pieces of a puzzle!
What we learned
Making a contribution to the world's wealth of technology will take a lot more growth and learning. Aside from continuing to develop skills, we worked extremely well together and developed trust over time.
What's next for Connected Car Dashboard
An algorithm for truly autonomous driving of course! Also better choices of implementing technologies.