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Sample Return Robot Challenge

The focus of the blog is changing. I mentioned that I rotate through projects. It is time to focus more on robotics, specifically the NASA Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge.

In June 2012 NASA ran a Centennial Challenge competition at Worcster Polytechnic Institute. This concept for the competition was a robot on the Moon or Mars retrieving samples. Its tasks were:
  • Obtain a pre-cached sample
  • Search for other interesting samples
  • Return all samples to a landing platform
I considered entering but abandoned the effort for personal and technical reasons. I am going to use the competition guidelines in the development of a robot. I believe the challenge will be repeated and am working now to overcome the technical issues. I will be sharing the effort on my web site. I am starting with a high-level analysis and dropping down to more details as that proceeds.

On this blog I will keep some notes on what has been updated on the project and provide some running commentary on the effort. 

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Sensor - Accelerometer & Magnetics

Just as I was finishing my first look at the accelerometer and magnetic field sensors a couple of threads cropped up on the Android Developer's group:

http://groups.google.com/group/android-developers/browse_frm/thread/1b42c48ce47cb1c9/720c6f4f8a40fc67#720c6f4f8a40fc67

http://groups.google.com/group/android-developers/browse_frm/thread/2e14272d72b7ab4f#

I had the basic code working so dug a little deeper into the rotation routines and the timing. I posted responses on the threads but want here to dig into the details more.

First some observations applicable to my G1:

The sensors report approximetly every 20, 40 and 220 msec for FAST, GAME, and NORMAL.
A sample may be missed for a specific sensor but usually one of them will be generated - but sometimes all can be missed.
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A caveat in all this is the way I setup the sensor handling may make a difference. I have a singl…

Programming Languages Used for SRR

I asked at the SRR Challenge about the languages and vision processing used by each team. Here is what I found:

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Cold Turkey on Linux

I bit the bullet a few weeks ago with Linux. I was getting ready to go to WPI for the SRR competition and decided to go cold turkey on my laptop. I put in a SSD and loaded Zorin Linux. It us recommended as a substitute for Win XP. One reason I liked it is the rolling upgrades instead of the Ubuntu staged upgrades.

There was still frustration. The WiFi did not work so I used the software updater to install the drivers it found from Broadcom. The OS would not boot after that. I reinstalled just before leaving and took the memory stick with the Zorin Live distro with me figuring I could always reload from it. I was impressed by the quickness of the installation. That encouraged me since if I messed up the laptop I could always quickly reinstall. I also had my iPad so accessing email, FB, and Twitter (I did a lot of tweeting with photos) were always available. 
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