An email from Michael posted to the SWARM mailing list earlier today
the truck will be on the road in a few minutes! Congratulations on all your hard work; we have six working orbs, four fully outfitted for autonomy, two autonomous sequences which can be activated directly by joystick, and a good start at the mother node integration which we can build on at the playa!
You rock, swarm rocks, and open your minds to where we can go from here….
From Mike Prados
tonight, Niladri and I started the dispatcher program, detached the ethernet cable, and removed our stuff to a respectable distance from orb 1 on the soccer field. It then spent a minute figuring out the initial bias on its sensors, and started rolling. It turned left and followed the line of the mid-field circle, and corrected a bit. It never strayed more than 2-3m from the line, we never turned the joystick on, and after four complete circles, we got tired of walking along with it and turned it off.
(image in SVN)
I’m sure we could have left it going until the batteries wore down.
We are standing at the edge of great things. Most of them will happen eventually, but we have a special opportunity to make some of them happen in a little over a week. How far we get between now and then is up to all of us. Of course, the more we can nail down the platform, the more time we will have to develop the art.
There is a lot to do. Please help to make it happen!
Followup from Niladri
It was pretty awesome to see the orb do circles. I thought it was the absinthe. On a field with no markings and with a slightly bigger circle I bet it will be hard to tell the 2-3 m deviation. Although an orb autonomously following a circle on a field is a fine demonstration of our technical skills it’s not that interesting in terms of art. The unique window and ~40k spectators that BM offers will probably won’t come by soon. And these people will remember us by what we put out there on the playa and not what we do later in the shop. So ye autonomy people please please make the whole thing happen. Feel free to pass on non-autonomy work to the rest of us. As Jon remarked yesterday there has been a lot of stack popping lately and it’s wonderful. Yay we are now artists again.
A shoutout from Michael
One of the most important factors in going from the random paths we had a couple weeks ago to our current semblance of path following is changing to the U-blox LEA-5H GPS modules. These outperform anything else we’ve seen at the sub $300 price point, but they are not available from the manufacturer with an integrated antenna. Fortunately, the folks at PPZUAV have created an awesome PCB for the modules with an integrated antenna, which provides on board voltage regulation and comm out via RS-232, TTL serial, and usb. They’ve been extremely helpful, and I’d recommend them happily!
The lovely and talented (with a blowtorch, power screw driver, spatula, and clipboard) Simone at Suicide Bots posted about SWARM’s immenent autonomous overlord status and the “mainstream” media was quick to pick up the story.
We’ve archived all the stories.