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Thread: The Book: The University of Louisiana's CajunBot

  1. This is a GREAT IDEA RaginBot & CajunBot prep for challenge in Mohave

    LOUISIANA La. -- CajunBot and its cousin, RaginBot, were put through the motions Monday for Defense Department officials in hopes the computer-guided vehicles can qualify for an upcoming challenge race through the desert.

    CajunBot was one of 15 robotic vehicles that competed last year for the Grand Challenge -- a 150-mile race through the Mojave Desert using vehicles operated only by on-board computers and sensors.

    None of the teams completed the course, so the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- or DARPA -- doubled the prize to $2 million for the winner of this year's race.

    DARPA's purpose through the Grand Challenge is to develop unmanned ground vehicles to help protect soldiers on the battlefield.

    CajunBot and RaginBot were developed by students and researchers at the University of Louisiana ... at Lafayette.

    CajunBot was the lovable underdog entry last year, going up against entries from better-funded and more recognizable robotics institutions such as MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Cal Tech, using a amphibious six-wheel vehicle often used by hunters.

    RaginBot is a Jeep, donated by Lafayette Motors, outfitted with the same sensors and steered and driven using a modified system used by physically impaired drivers.

    The rest of the story



    By KEVIN BLANCHARD
    kblanchard@theadvocate.com
    Acadiana bureau

  2. Default UL team chases $2 million prize

    With one race behind them, a team of students and faculty at the University of Louisiana are taking another shot racing their six-wheeled, all-terrain celebrity vehicle - CajunBot.

    But this year, the team is doubling its chances, entering another vehicle - Ragin'Bot, a Jeep Rubicon.

    Up for grabs - $2 million and the development of autonomous military technology in the Department of Defense's DARPA's Grand Challenge.

    Both vehicles are outfitted with the technology to drive itself controlling its speed and detect and navigate around obstacles.

    On Monday, two Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency officials visited campus to check out both vehicles. The visit is one of about 117 made across the country to teams at universities and private industries to cut the competition down to about 40.

    Teams will know in about a month if they qualify for the next round in late September and ultimately the race Oct. 8. Only about 25 teams are expected to race for the $2 million.

    Last year, CajunBot, the team's six-wheeled all-terrain vehicle, was one of 13 vehicles than ran the race between Barstow, Calif., and Primm, Nev., but no one won last year's $1 million race. That year the longest distance traveled was about seven miles. Though CajunBot didn't return a million-dollar winner, it made national headlines, including CNN airtime.

    On Monday, the robots had their first test in the DARPA visit. The visits are an opportunity for teams to showcase their work - not only on their bots - but as a team, said Col. Gasper Gulotta of DARPA.

    "We want to make sure things will progress and that they show that they understand what's involved," said Edward Baranoski, Ph.D., another DARPA official.

    The team is comprised of students, faculty and even community members with the support of industry sponsors. Its major sponsors include C&C Technologies, MedExpress, Real-Time Innovations, Inc. headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., UL and the Center for Advanced Computer Studies, Lafayette Motors and Oxford Technical Solutions and Brendel Associates based in the United Kingdom.

    The rest of the story



    Marsha Sills
    msills@theadvertiser.com

    For more information about DARPA's Grand Challenge, go to www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge

  3. Research CajunBot makes the Semi Finals

    >

    LOS ANGELES Let the battle of the machines begin again.

    Forty self-navigating robots -- including the University of Louisiana's CajunBot -- were chosen today to compete in the October eighth sequel to last year's first-ever robot race across the Mojave Desert.

    Only half of the semifinalists will qualify for a spot on the starting line, based on how they maneuver -- without human help -- through a series of obstacle courses.

    The stakes are higher this time around. Organizers of the Pentagon-sponsored race doubled the prize money after none of the 15 contestants finished the rugged desert course last year.

    A converted Humvee by Carnegie Mellon University was the best performer last year despite traveling only seven-and-a-half miles across the desert before breaking down.

    The source of the story


  4. #24
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    Ragin' Cajuns Official CajunBot Thread

    Since nobody in the local media seems to be picking this one up, I'll keep anyone who's interested up to date.

    Background: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is trying to improve their autonomous vehicle technology, so they proposed a contest in 2004, called the Grand Challenge, that would award $1 million to any team that was able to complete a 150 mile course with an autonomous vehicle. Since no one won, the prize for 2005 was raised to $2 million.

    Selection: Each team was required to submit an application, complete with a project summary and some brief technical information. DARPA then selected the top 120 of these entries. The University of Louisiana's CajunBot was one of these 120.

    Next, DARPA made a site visit to each of these teams in order to see the vehicle for themselves and get a demonstration. From there, DARPA narrowed the field down to 40 semi-finalists. CajunBot was again one of the 40.

    Early last week, DARPA brought those 40 teams to Ontario, California, to compete in the National Qualifying Event (NQE), where the field would be eventually narrowed down to 20 before the Grand Challenge on Oct. 8.



    The NQE consists of a 2.5-3 mile course on the infield of the California Speedway. DARPA sets up the course to test specific skills of the vehicles. Each team will get 4 or 5 runs on the course by Wednesday night, when the top 20 will be announced.

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  5. #25
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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Cool I hope we place well...Go Cajun Bot..........


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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    In our first qualifying run in the middle of last week, the CajunBot performed well but got slightly hung up on some hay.



    That hay was supposed to be the edge of the course. So, as you can image, if you get airborn heading away from the course, your run is pretty much over.

    In our second run, the vehicle performed very well again, making it through all of the difficult parts of the course. CajunBot, however, stalled on the one of the final straightaways. Disappointing that we didn't finish, but a solid run nonetheless.

    Our third run today is when chaos broke loose. As we headed to the starting point, we heard a loud popping sound and all of a sudden we lost right side steering. Diagnosis: blown transmission and a broken chain.





    So, we had to pass on our third round run, but news is good. We were able to secure an ATV that is identical to the one we have been using. The plan is to use the second vehicle for replacement parts, so we should be up and running by the time our fourth run comes around. We will need to do very well from here on out to qualify for the final 20, but its definitely possible. More updates to come...

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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    The special thing about CajunBot is that it has been done with a budget only worth a fraction of what some of the other teams have. Much of our gear and equipment has been donated or even borrowed.

    This whole project would not have been possible without the support of the community. There are too many people to thank here, but I especially wanted to thank GolfBalls.com for giving us these sweet hats...

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  8. #28
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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Late night replacing the transmission pays off...



    CajunBot completes the course on its fourth run! We just moved from relative longshot to having a legitimate chance!

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  9. #29
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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Congratulations and all the best..! btw ..are you an official member of the team? keep the updates coming..


  10. #30
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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Yes I am an official member of the team...

    News of the day: CajunBot completed its 5th run this morning. We were then called back out to the course in the afternoon for an unexpected sixth run. We were doing very well, right up until the very end, when we hit a parked vehicle and were forced to stop. No damage to the CajunBot however.

    Basically, at this point, we don't know if we will make the final 20 or not. That announcement will come at some point late in the day tomorrow. I like our chances though. All we can do now is be ready if they happen to ask us to run again.

    By the way, I hear there is a cool video on cajunbot.com that shows the vehicle moving through its first successful run. Go check that out.


  11. #31
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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by BabbForHeisman
    Yes I am an official member of the team...

    News of the day: CajunBot completed its 5th run this morning. We were then called back out to the course in the afternoon for an unexpected sixth run. We were doing very well, right up until the very end, when we hit a parked vehicle and were forced to stop. No damage to the CajunBot however.

    Basically, at this point, we don't know if we will make the final 20 or not. That announcement will come at some point late in the day tomorrow. I like our chances though. All we can do now is be ready if they happen to ask us to run again.

    By the way, I hear there is a cool video on cajunbot.com that shows the vehicle moving through its first successful run. Go check that out.
    Way to geaux, mon ami! Good luck to you and the entire Cajunbot team!!!


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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Just saw the video. Very nice! Keep up the good work and win that challenge!


  13. #33
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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Just received the news...CajunBot will move on!

    DARPA is taking 23 teams to the race starting in Primm, Nevada, and we are one of them!


  14. #34

    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by BabbForHeisman
    Just received the news...CajunBot will move on!

    DARPA is taking 23 teams to the race starting in Primm, Nevada, and we are one of them!
    Great news thanks for keeping us on top of things.

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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    w00t!!! Congratulations..keep up the great work guys...!


  16. Default CajunBot team off to Nevada



    While in Fontana, Calif., doing test runs for CajunBot, the team kept close watch on one particular race they wanted to get in on.

    Then, at around 5 p.m. CDT, the news came that Team CajunBot was a finalist for the DARPA Grand Challenge, a race that could bring a $2 million purse worth of research funds and reimbursements to the University of Louisiana and the student and faculty staff behind the project.

    "It's a great feeling to take on a big challenge and be satisfied that you're being recognized in this group," said Arun Lakhotia, associate professor at the Center for Advanced Computer Studies. "We're competing with the brightest in the country, the brightest in the world."

    The Defense Advanced Research and Development Agency Grand Challenge is a desert road test for autonomous robotic vehicles designed to improve autonomous technologies that could save lives on the battlefield. DARPA is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense. There are 23 teams from numerous universities and racing groups that will send their robots into the Mojave Desert near Primm, Nev., for a 175-mile race to be completed in 10 hours.

    While CajunBot isn't a fast machine, Lakhotia said it's agile, and that could be key in navigating the desert terrain.

    The rest of the story



    Jordan Hernandez
    jhernandez@theadvertiser.com


  17. Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    CajunBot has been going for almost 2 hours and has traversed 25 miles.

    The Hummers are far in the lead but left 3 hours ahead of CajunBot.


    Click link then "Status Board" for live results.

    www.grandchallenge.org


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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Well, CajunBot was officially disabled after travelling a full 18 miles autonomously. This was far greater than we had hoped for. It was good enough for a top-15 finish.

    So why did we stop? DARPA had to "pause" our vehicle to allow some cross traffic to go through. In the process of being paused for fifty minutes, one of the actuator's that control the steering overheated and quit working. Not cool. Bottom line, if we did not have to pause there, we could have finished the course. But hey, what can you do?


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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by BabbForHeisman
    Well, CajunBot was officially disabled after travelling a full 18 miles autonomously. This was far greater than we had hoped for. It was good enough for a top-15 finish.

    So why did we stop? DARPA had to "pause" our vehicle to allow some cross traffic to go through. In the process of being paused for fifty minutes, one of the actuator's that control the steering overheated and quit working. Not cool. Bottom line, if we did not have to pause there, we could have finished the course. But hey, what can you do?
    It is interesting to note some of the teams we finished ahead of too (Auburn, CalTech, etc.) Congrats on a fine competition. Sorry y'all didn't finish in the top 10, but a top 15 finish is excellent (especially considering our resources). Y'all have "done us proud"!

  20. #40
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    Zeebart21 is offline Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Greatest Fan Ever
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    Default Re: Official CajunBot Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by BabbForHeisman
    Well, CajunBot was officially disabled after travelling a full 18 miles autonomously. This was far greater than we had hoped for. It was good enough for a top-15 finish.

    So why did we stop? DARPA had to "pause" our vehicle to allow some cross traffic to go through. In the process of being paused for fifty minutes, one of the actuator's that control the steering overheated and quit working. Not cool. Bottom line, if we did not have to pause there, we could have finished the course. But hey, what can you do?

    Man, you guys are awesome... Nice work!

    Z.

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