Building an Autonomous Vehicle: The Batmobile
Answering the Why
Why build an autonomous vehicle for A+PRS?
The thrill of taking a corner, extremely low to the ground, with your gut telling you these g-forces are not normal... that’s why we spend countless hours building these silly Power Wheels vehicles. The giggles and grins are unavoidable! These cars are so much fun to drive -- and even more fun to race!
In 2016, SparkFun had its eighth annual Autonomous Vehicle Competition. This year saw the introduction of a new rule: you needed to carry a human (or a 20lb dead weight in the form of a watermelon if you were too chicken). To do this, my wife, Alicia, and I modified a Batmobile Power Wheels and combined it with a Razor chassis. The result was an extremely zippy electric go-kart that left a perma-grin on everyone who drove it.
Our goal was to create a vehicle that could quickly and easily switch between human driver and driverless modes so that we could compete in both PRS and A+PRS categories. In the end, Alicia placed a very respectable third place in the driver category, and I did not finish (DNF) in the autonomous category, running into numerous hay bales.
This tutorial attempts to document a six-month build process for an Autonomous + Power Racing Series (A+PRS) vehicle. Every autonomous vehicle is unique, and the requirements of each will vary from build to build.
You can see our overall budget, including a list of components and vendors here.
You can get all the code from our repo here.