A Low-Cost, Open-Source Robotic Racecar for Education and Research

Christopher Dossman
Aug 27 · 3 min read

Taking inspiration from MIT’s RACECAR project, a group of researchers from Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington set out to create an even more affordable full-stack robotics system to support their own research and teaching demands that is open to the general public.

If you don’t know, MIT RACECAR is an open-source powerful platform for robotics research and education. It houses state-of-the-art sensors and computing hardware, placed on top of a powerful 1/10-scale mini race car.

A New Accessible Platform for Mobile, Multi-Agent Robotics

As stated above, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington researchers have now released their own version of a racecar which they are calling the Multi-agent System for non-Holonomic Racing(MuSHR).

The acronym MuSHR is inspired by dog-sled racing, mushing, where dogs (most commonly Alaskan Huskies) work together to pull a sled. As the University of Washington’s mascot is the Husky, the researchers found the name especially fitting.

MuSHR Hardware Components

Like MIT’s racecar, MuSHR is an open-source robotic racecar platform for education and research, developed by the Personal Robotics Lab although a bit different in that it is low cost. As such, MuSHR aspires to contribute towards democratizing the field of robotics as a low-cost platform that can be built and deployed by following detailed, open documentation and do-it-yourself tutorials.

MuSHR Software Components

Its hardware design is based on a series of off-the-shelf components that can be easily found online and in hardware stores around the world, whereas the software architecture was developed at the Personal Robotics Lab. A set of demos and lab assignments developed for the Mobile Robots course at the University of Washington provide guided hands-on experience with the platform, and milestones for further development.

Potential Uses and Effects

For every robotic project from high school, university-level to the industry, MuSHR offers low development cost. The platform provides an excellent testbed for showcasing a wide variety of robotics research projects for academic research labs, robotics trainers, robotics hobbyists, and enthusiasts.

Its comprehensive documentation is also a beneficial robotics resource as it comes with open-source instructions and video-based tutorials, designed to carry the user through its hardware and software development.

Documentation is hosted on Github and is free to the general public to download, use, fork and iterate upon.

Access research details here.

Read more: https://arxiv.org/abs/1908.08031

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Christopher Dossman

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Deep Learning Engineer, Teacher, and Entrepreneur

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