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Do You Know Why Mobile Robots Are a Cost Effective Solution for Autonomous Vehicle Testing?

The race to develop reliable autonomous vehicles is on! Players such as Google are quickly joining Mercedes Benz, Audi, Volvo and many other automobile manufacturers, each battling to test and develop an autonomous vehicle before their competitors. 

However, here’s the catch: Autonomous navigation requires extensive component testing and software development related to robotics vision, motion and location sensors, navigation, responsiveness and many other factors. So, while testing sensors on a passenger vehicle is a necessary end step to develop a driverless car, it’s not the most effective path to overall success because cars fit-up for autonomous navigation with integrated sensors and testing equipment can cost more than $300,000.

Fortunately, a more efficient and cost-effective solution exists to develop software for autonomous navigation and sensor testing—mobile robots.

Using Mobile Robots for Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Robotic Mobility Platforms, or RMPs, are mobile robots built and integrated with sensors and computing devices essential for autonomous mobility. A mobile robot provides the perfect low cost solution to develop software for integrating sensors and testing autonomous navigation on a moving machine.

Here’s just some of the RMP capabilities:

Mobile Robots: Testing Capabilities

  • Crash avoidance/obstacle avoidance:
    • Awareness of surroundings
    • Sensing inanimate/stationary objects
    • Sensing moving objects
    • Distance control
    • Keeping track of objects approaching and moving away
  • Location Sensing:
    • Aware of location relative to a map
  • Mapping:
    • Gauging height of surrounding objects
    • Sensing inanimate/stationary objects

While features such as steering assist and control adjustments for specific vehicle models will need testing on an automobile to perfect, researchers can use a mobile robot to test basic functions listed above before transitioning to full-sized automobile testing. Developing and testing on a mobile robot will help you get ahead of the competition by saving time, money, and improving efficiency

Mobile Robots & Features for Autonomous Navigation Testing

  • Environment
    • Outdoor; IP66 (water/dust ingress) requirement
    • Temperatures 0-50 Celsius
    • Offroad
  • Mobility
    • Slopes < 30deg (55% grade)
    • Average Payloads of 90kg (180kg max)
    • Operated on hard packed off-road surfaces
    • Range of 13km
    • Speeds up to 29 km/h (8m/s)
    • Ground clearance of 110mm
  • Sensors
    • Multi-plane laser scanner for 3D mapping
    • Outdoor PTZ camera with IR backlight
    • Machine vision camera with wide FOV lens
    • AHRS/GPS module for localization
  • On Board PC System
    • One on-board PC with processing power/IO to handle sensor streams, semi-autonomous tele-operation, and wireless to handle large format data stream
    • All sensor/platform drivers complete
    • All system nodes publishing with required transforms
    • Robot localization EKF running with IMU, wheel odometry and GPS and visual odometry inputs
    • Guarded motion; semi-autonomous tele-operation
      • Platform will detect and prevent operator from hitting obstacle with a minimum guard radius
      • Platform can be given a waypoint queue and perform straight line point to point navigation between waypoints. When an obstacle is encountered the platform will stop, and notify
      • Autonomous outdoor navigation within a known map

The specific testing requirements will determine the integrated sensors your mobile robot needs.

At Stanley Innovation, our engineers have extensive experience in mobile robotics and can help you by asking the right questions to determine RMP solution with a sensor package meeting development, testing and budget requirements.

Have a question about integration or possible use cases for your mobile robot? Autonomous driving is one of many RMP testing and development applications. Our engineers will answer your questions and even provide a preliminary engineering study to determine cost and feasibility before you make a significant investment.

Contact our robotics team today to see if a mobile robot is a cost effective solution for autonomous vehicle development and testing.


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