Resources to help you build an indoor self driving car

Subodh Malgonde
Jan 28 · 3 min read

Couple of months back I wrote a post on how I went about building a 1/10th scale self driving car, which can roam around in my house. Checkout this video of the car in action. This post lists down some of the online resources which helped me build this car.

My 1/10th scale self driving car. See this post.

MIT Racecar

As mentioned in the earlier post, my project was inspired by the MIT Racecar, which is a research platform used in multiple courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their website won’t help you much. It only contains very basic information about the car and its hardware components.

So a good place to start is by going through this series of blog posts. These were posted by the teaching assistants (TAs) of Robotics: Science and Systems, one of the courses which uses this platform. Its ok if you don’t understand everything in the first read. The blog posts will serve as a guideline for your own development. The blog posts start off with basic software setup, then gradually guide you through implementing wall following, obstacle detection, localization and path planning.

F1/10

F1/10 is a competition which involves designing, building, and testing an autonomous 1/10th scale F1 race car. The car platform used for this competition is inspired by the MIT Racecar and is almost the same, barring few changes. They also reuse most of the software developed by the MIT Racecar team for simulation, localization and motor control. The idea of this competition is to have a common hardware platform for all competing teams and judge them on how well their cars drive around the racetrack.

Their website has excellent documentation which includes build instructions, bill of materials, reference manual (don’t miss this!) and tutorials (videos). They also have an active forum where one can seek help with issues.

HyphaROS

HyphaROS Racecar is another open source project inspired by the MIT Racecar. They have used hardware substitutions to lower the cost of the car. Specifically they use a cheaper LIDAR and onboard computer. These substitutions helped me lower the cost of the car to below $1000. They have a very good tutorial on building the car. The creators of this project were kind enough to help me with a few issues that I had raised on their github repo.

Recently they released a 1/20th scale version of the car, further bringing down the cost. Checkout HyphaROS Minicar.

JetsonHacks

JetsonHacks is a community centred around building projects using the NVIDIA Jetson computing platform. The MIT Racecar uses Jetson TX1 kit as its onboard computer. Newer projects, like F1/10, use Jetson TX2. This forum has 2 series of blog posts on building an MIT style racecar:

The 2 versions mainly differ on the mounting of electronics components and motor controller. The newer version uses an open source motor controller, which is also used by MIT Racecar and F1/10.

Both the projects have tutorials on building the hardware platform and a few posts on the software stack. I would recommend you to go through the videos associated with each blog post to get an idea of how different components connect with each other.


These resources should help you with assembling the hardware components of the car. You will need to get familiar with the Robot Operating System (ROS), which serves as the software backbone of the car. ROS will help you read data from sensors (using open source ROS drivers), implement localization and path planning algorithms (using open source ROS packages) and motor control. This will be the subject of my next blog post.


Note: I am exploring applications of autonomous robots in industries such as logistics, warehousing and agriculture. My objective is to find a use case and then build an autonomous robot for it. If you are interested in this or would just like to have a chat then reach out to me on LinkedIn. I would be happy to talk :)

Subodh Malgonde

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Robotics & ML engineer. Excited about automation tech. linkedin.com/in/subodh-malgonde/