In early October, Fixstars was engaged by Axion Racing to assist with the integration of a Sony PlayStation3 running Yellow Dog Linux into "Spirit", Axion's fully autonomous Jeep Grand Cherokee which is this week competing in the qualifying rounds for the DARPA autonomous vehicle challenge in Victorville, California.
Integral to the on-board, realtime image processing system, the Yellow Dog Linux PS3 rides atop a set of 1U rackmount servers inside Spirit which drives itself through simulated city traffic and obstacles during the qualifying rounds, currently underway.
In just ten days, Fixstars' Bill Mueller ported, wrote, and optimized code for Yellow Dog Linux on a PS3 which is connected to an RGB camera. This realtime image processing system enables the autonomous vehicle to "see" the street terrain and avoid obstacles. The RGB camera is tied into the Axion arbitrator and other computerized sensors to help determine the best path for the 3/4 ton Jeep. All sensors vote and then send commands to actuators that control steering, gas, and brakes for the vehicle. For safety, the brakes are always on, unless released by software commands that then motivate the gas pedal.
Axion "Spirit" is the only autonomous vehicle to participate in all three DARPA Challenges: was one of only 7 teams to qualify for the 2004 Challenge and was the 3rd best team qualifier for the 2005 Challenge.
The 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge qualifications are in progress now at Victorville, California, George Air Force Base, October 26-31. Open to the public, the final race will be held this Saturday, 4 November 2007.
"Some day in the not too distant future, kids will play games in the back of the van while Mom and Dad ... play games too, the driving left to Yellow Dog Linux." --William Kehaly, Founder Axion Racing