4007 Project Idea: Artificially Intelligent Slot Car Racer

Prof. Derek Tittle of the Department of Economics sent me the following idea.
I’m not sure the best way to go about this, but it sounds like it would be
a lot of fun and also pretty tricky – you want the car to go as fast as
possible without it going too fast and flipping out of the track, and
that requires knowing where the curves are. Any team tackling this should
probably have at least one person with a lab-oriented systems & controls

Hey Aaron,

I know you already have an idea for this semester’s
undergraduate research,
but a thought occurred to me
the other day and you might be interested in it for future use.
I wanted to make this a multidisciplinary team competition, but
just don’t have the resources to pull it off.

A number of adults enjoy 1:32 scale slot car racing.
But, it requires two people to have fun.
There have been several attempts to create robotic
car competitors, but they have failed
so far due to technical failures
or were cost prohibitive.
The most recent by
tended to fly off the track at the corners.

This seems like a great project for
undergraduate students to develop a
control box that links to a computer
via bluetooth to control the car.

The controller
controls the cars
by applying a variable
amount of voltage to the
track to produce speed and
the car automatically brakes when no voltage is present.

The students would have to either
require the player to program in the track layout
into the computer program or modify
the car to transmit information back
to the PC via the controller to have
it learn the track (faster and less work for the player).

Additionally, the system would have to
include sensors to frequently calibrate
the program’s expectation of where the car
is to where it actually is
(1/10% systematic variance error over
100 laps probably guarantees degradation
of the competitiveness of the PC car and its imminent launch from the track).

If you ever decide to use this, let me know,
I can lend you some track in exchange
for helping me build one of the more successful models for my own use.

Have a great day!