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SubT Tunnel Circuit

Robotika Team

The DARPA Subterranean Challenge is headed to Pittsburgh for the Tunnel Circuit, the first scored Challenge Event, in August from the 15th-22nd. Qualified teams will attempt to navigate a former operational mine in Pittsburgh, PA. … Update: 15/5/2019 — LORD 3DM-GX5-25 sensor ... (92 days)

5th May 2019 — Here we go again … (102 days)

Well, there was not enough time for rest, I would almost say None! Yesterday (maybe two days ago) DARPA announced the date and location for the real compettition: DARPA SubT Challenge Tunnel Circuit Announcement (note, that you have to be registered in order to see it). Beside the paragraph above there were details about the mine and link to „motivation video”:
As part of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program, testing in the research mine contributes to advances in mining industry practices. In August, the mine will serve as the arena for the SubT Challenge as teams compete to accurately map, identify, and report the greatest number of artifacts along the mine passages.
I guess that there will soon also official announcement with the list of qualified teams.
The Virtual Track is going to run in parallel. Note, that the deadline was extended to 10th of June 2019. The score board never-the-less still looks the same:
Robotika and two other (probably DARPA funded) teams are qualified and 13 teams are still with zero points … but they have 6 more weeks to go …
There were are some minor changes like we renamed team from to Robotika and made visible all our subTeams (including newly created spin-offs):
When compared to STIX in April we are now working on NINE platforms! … yes, that is totally crazy and I am quite aware of the Second-system effect. I suppose that by the end of May we will reduce this number to half, and what survives will be duplicated for the trip to U.S.
Moreover there are new toys: inertial sensors from LORD, programmable laser scanners TIM-P from SICK, and older 3D scanner from Pulu Robotics.
Note, that there was a relatively long „prelude” period, which you can read at Rules and Prelude (both in Czech) and about STIX in Colorado.

8th May 2019 — Kloubák — the student's platform … (99 days)

Yesterday I witness the very first motion test of new platform Kloubák (in English „Jointer”, maybe). It was great to see the students at the university (CULS) at work to finish the minimalistic version to see the robot moving. Yes, we argued a lot, that they should do it even simpler, but now it works, so I am happy.
There is an outdoor competition Robot go straight in 3 days, on Saturday April 11th, so there is not enough time left. Now there are two sets of power cables for BLDC motors to be controlled by two (of four) vESC drivers.
I must admit, that the development was so far quite rapid (especially if you take into account that some students have to finish their thesis, others are working full time, etc.). The initial step did Jakub, sent his sketch what he would like to build (mail dated April 20th) and the next weekend together with Standa they build and weld the frame.
Later we found ARTI platform developed by Segway back in 2012, so the plan is something similar.
p.s. this Jointer prototype should serve two goals: SubT and also as an autonomous robot in the field
p.s.2 and here is small video proof

12th May 2019 — Kloubák at competition Robotem rovně … (95 days)

The robot „Kloubák” (articulated robot) went to its first competition Robotem rovně (Robot go straight!) in Písek. It was the first milestone for all platforms but only Kloubák and the CZU subTeam managed to get ready.
The central joint was fixed in order to simplify the robot control and it helped. The robot reached 78 meters, and sure enough the students also tried some terrain tests — so far it looks like the robot survived.
If you would like to see the wet video from Písek, here it is.

15th May 2019 — LORD 3DM-GX5-25 sensor … (92 days)

There are a couple of small notes I wanted to write down, primarily for me and my colleagues, but it could be useful for other teams too. One of them is description of the first steps with new 3DM-GX5-25 sensor, which we received from supporting LORD company.
The sensor is small (approx 2x3cm) and comes with two cable options: USB and RS232. USB has advantage of power source while in case of RS232 you have to provide it extra … but RSR232 is often more reliable and easier to integrate in small embedded devices. So far I tried the USB cable option on Windows 7 only.
First of all you will need to install driver otherwise the 3DM-GX5-25 device is not recognized. The next step is to install MIP Monitor for configuration and visualization of data. I would recommend it because by default is the sensor silent, so you have to talk to it first in order to receive any data.
In order to integrate the sensor in OSGAR library I had two problems:
  • checksum did not match
  • selected types of messages had to be configured after boot-up
Thanks to great support from Barry both issues were quickly sorted out. The checksum is computed in two separate bytes and both are stored (see Fletcher Checksum Algorithm).
Setting the configuration was more tricky — you have to switch also sensor to running mode before you save the configuration! It make sense, as by default you may want to change parameters before getting loads of data.
Here are the instructions:
MIP Monitor allows you to write your settings to the 3DM-GX5-25 non-volatile
By following this method, each time you power up the inertial sensor, the
settings will automatically actuate without any intervention by the host
As an example:
    Launch MIP Monitor software and connect to the 3DM-GX5-25 as normal.
    Click once on the 3DM-GX5-25 Model/Serial/etc. readout to highlight it.
    Click Settings.
    Click Load Default Settings and a confirming message box appears.
    Click OK and the message box disappears.
    Click Settings.
    Click Device and the Device Setup window appears.
    Click the Estimation Filter tab.
    Click the Message Format sub-tab.
    Select Attitude (Euler RPY) in the drop-down.
    Select 100 Hz in the drop-down.
    Click OK and the Device Setup window disappears.
    Click Control.
    Click Run.
    Click Settings.
    Click Save Current Settings and a confirming message box appears.
    Click OK and the message box disappears.
    Click File.
    Click Exit and MIP Monitor closes.
Unplug the power to the 3DM-GX5-25.
Plug the power back into the 3DM-GX5-25.
Note that after a few blips of the green LED, the LED will begin blipping
rapidly, indicating that the 3DM-GX5-25 has initialized, and is now outputting
100 Hz Euler angles.
It works.
Barry also suggested hints regarding calibration and Auto Adaptive functions … but I would postpone it when the sensor is mounted on the robot (which is unfortunately not yet, and that would require another „report”).
p.s. I forgot the most important thing: 3DM-GX5-25 manual