For the first part of designing and building the device, we first need to find the right computer/microcontroller to build our device off of. Before that, though, we need to know what we will plan on using so we can find the best controller for our device.

Current idea

What I am thinking about the car’s hardware is that it needs some sort of object recognition and obstacle sensing, probably both. We probably want a camera so that we can use computer vision in order to detect certain objects, such as other cars, lane markers, and other things. For the obstacle sensing, I should probably use a few ultrasonic sensors, they are relatively cheap and easy to work with.

Finding the right controller

First, before starting anything, we need to find a microcontroller/computer that can handle all of the needed tasks while fitting into a small form factor, since I’m planning to actually build/mod an RC car, since it is cheaper and easier to work with.

What do I need/want in my controller?

What we need it to be able to do is image processing. Image processing is hard and requires some serious processing power. I will most probably start with OpenCV for the image processing, it’s relatively easy to use once you know python. I also need it to control motors, and steering, so that will probably use up 4 DC Motors, and a servo. we will also use ultrasonic sensors, and those components can be used with minimal effort and processing power. Also, if I am going to make multiple of these cars, I would like the computer/processor to be cheap, so I can easily afford 30 of them later on.

Pi_Zero_v1.2.png
A Pi Zero that I can’t seem to get my hands on. (Source: raspberrypi.org)

I’ll using the Pi Zero(duh), because it is very, very tiny for a computer. It can handle basic image processing(has the same processor as the pi B+, also has more RAM), and it has 40 GPIO pins, more than enough for what I’m working on. It has only one USB OTG, but that can be fixed with USB hubs. It also doesn’t have WiFi, but I can just plug in a WiFi dongle whenever I need to install software, or I could just download it and put it on a flash drive.

What I need first is the Pi Zero, but unfortunately, they are either out of stock, or sold for $40(why is it called a $5 computer then?) alone. Until then, I will most likely work on other projects until I can get myself at least one.

 

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