A path following vehicle called Alice

During the last term, my team and I were not the only ones creating a vehicle, controlled by Android. A group of first year students, at the Software Engineering and Management program, of the University of Gothenburg, were also developing one of their own. They created an Android application, which enables them to draw a path on the screen with their finger. This, is interpreted as a set of driving instructions to be sent via Bluetooth to an Arduino based vehicle, that executes them and therefore follows the drawn path. Let’s see how they describe their product. The system we developed, consists of two components: 1. An autonomous car, programmed on the Arduino platform. 2. An application for a portable “smart” device (a smartphone or a tablet computer), currently running on the android platform. The user draws a path directly on the screen of the portable device for the car to follow. The car and the portable device communicate via Bluetooth. The car is equipped with an obstacle-detecting sensor (currently ultrasound). Should an obstacle be detected, the car stops and the user is presented with two possible choices: either control the car manually, or instruct the car to carry out previously sent instructions if the obstacle is deemed to not […]

A multipurpose business card

First impressions matter, but what about… the second ones? Say you have met a potential employer or business partner, awed them with your skills, personality, knowledge (or your interactive name tag) and it’s time to give them your contact information. You hand out a business card. So why not make that one stand out as well?

The world’s first Android autonomous vehicle

Team Pegasus created an autonomous vehicle that utilizes machine vision algorithms and techniques as well as data from the on-board sensors, in order to follow street lanes, perform parking maneuvers and overtake obstacles blocking its path. The innovational aspect of this project, is first and foremost the use of an Android phone as the unit which realizes the image processing and decision making. It is responsible for wirelessly transmitting instructions to an Arduino, that controls the physical aspects of the vehicle. Secondly, the various hardware components (i.e. sensors, motors etc) are programmatically handled in an object oriented way, using a custom made Arduino library, which enables developers without background in embedded systems to trivially accomplish their tasks, not caring about lower level implementation details. The use of a common mobile phone, instead of specialized devices (i.e. a Linux single-board computer), offers much higher deployability, user friendliness and scalability. Android-based autonomous vehicles, which could be deployed on the road, were not found in the literature, therefore the team behind it believes this avant garde work, can constitute the basis of further research on the subject of autonomous vehicles controlled by consumer, handheld, mobile devices. This article will cover details on the development […]

Breakout for the HM-11 BLE module

A month ago, I was researching ways to increase the connectability and compatibility of devices that I make. More particularly, that of a vehicular platform, I have been working on for the past couple of months and will write soon about. I considered the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) as the way to go, since it’s the technology that is becoming the new standard, with the latest Android and iOS devices supporting it. I stumbled upon, some relatively cheap and small BLE modules, called HM-11, based on CC2541 by Texas Instruments.

DIY, easy & cheap wireless presenter!

During presentations, I avoid being stationary and generally like to walk around in order to increase the interaction between me and the audience. However, I was constantly being faced with the burden of having to go back to the laptop, in order to change a slide or tell a person sitting by the laptop to do that. Not cool! This problem is usually solved by devices, called remote clickers or wireless presenters, which consist of a handheld controller with buttons that sends signals to a USB dongle plugged in the computer. After looking around to buy one, I could not find any decent option costing less than 10€. So why not make one?

ATtiny85 workshop in Gothenburg

Last Friday, I organized a workshop on the ATtiny85 microcontroller. It was a great experience and I believe everyone had a lot of fun and learned a few things.

ATtiny85 line following truck

I am organizing a workshop on ATtiny85 programming this week, so I built a model truck that can either be remotely controlled or tasked to follow a line! Read on for the story behind it, schematics, photos and videos.

DIY interactive name tag

Exams are over, so there was some time to make this peculiar interactive name tag. It consists of an I2C LCD screen, an ATtiny85 microcontroller and a microphone. If you are attending a conference, a workshop or something similar and you want to make an impression, keep reading!

8$ RC kill switch!

In this article I will cover the basics of a remote controlled kill switch that you can deploy in your house, your embedded project, your autonomous vehicle or anywhere else you see fit!

Make your own 10$ trackable keychain

Have you seen advertisements of small, usually Bluetooth powered, tracking devices such as the TrackR bravo? Well, now it’s time to make your own… cheaper!