Building an Autonomous Vehicle: The Batmobile

Contributors: Nate
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Tips / Best Practices

Pig tails in air in a turn

Tip 1) Start early -- These vehicles take a large amount of time. Get together with friends and start hacking. It’s a great labor of love, and drifting in a 15mph go-kart will make you giggle.

Tip 2) Get reverse -- Get a motor controller with reverse. It will make it so you can drive your car where you want it instead of carrying your car where you need it.

Tip 3) Use connectors! -- I’ve written about using connectors a few times. Use polarized connectors and a label maker to make it clear what plugs in where.

Tip 4) Size your motor and motor controller correctly -- We blew our motor controller because it was underrated. A friend of ours smoked his motor because he was pushing too much current. Pick your system voltage and current, and then double the ratings wherever you can.

Tip 5) Beware of interference -- These vehicles can pull 30 amps or more when accelerating, which can cause large electromagnetic fields. Keep unshielded cables and sensitive sensors away from power wires.

Tip 6) Wireless control and sensor logging -- After you pick up your 75lb vehicle and drag it to the start line for the fifth time, you’ll understand the need for remote control. Create a wireless system that allows you to take over control of the vehicle from afar so you can drive it where you need it. And transmit the sensor data so you can see what the vehicle is doing.

Nathan with pigtails in Batmobile

Hope you enjoyed reading! See you at next year’s AVC!

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