The AX2550 Motor Controller has been installed in four of the 20 robotic vehicles that were vying for the $1M prize that DARPA was offering to the winner of the Los Angeles to Las Vegas race held on Saturday March 14, 2004. These vehicles had to find their way and drive the 210-mile trek without a human driver or operator, using solely their own sensors and computers to recognize and navigate through the difficult mountainous and desert terrain.
Each of the three vehicles uses the controller in the position mode to drive the steering with one channel and the throttle with the other. Steering is particularly challenging because of the high force that it normally takes to turn the wheel and the difficulty to move it to a desired position in a fast and stable fashion, using traditional electronics.
The AX2550 can easily be interfaced to any computer through its built-in RS232 interface. The controller can also be operated with a standard RC radio or direct analog joystick, which is handy for manually driving the vehicle until the computer pilot is activated.
Instruction on how to used the AX2550 to control full-size vehicles can be found here
While in the end, no participant made the challenge, expect Roboteq to be at the steering of the next race, scheduled for 2005.
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