January 5, 2014

Sparkfun AVC Thoughts

Sparkfun has recently announced that the 2014 Autonomous Vehicle Contest (AVC) will be held on June 21, 2014.

The AVC, as its name implies, is a contest where contestants build vehicles that must navigate a course autonomously. That is, no input or guidance from a driver or pilot. I've been following the AVC for a couple of years now and have thought about entering before. This year I think I just might do it. The STM32F4DISCOVERY board appears to be a perfect platform to build upon for the contest. That board, a few sensors and a whole lot of code sounds like just the ticket.

There are two categories of competition: ground and air. I'm not yet ready to build a self-piloting drone. But a self-driving model car is probably a good stretch goal for me to build on my embedded skills. I've already starting writing a code library to write debug output to a serial port. I'm planning on picking up a BlueFruit bluetooth link from Adafruit to stream the debug spew back to my laptop. The F4 also features an embedded USB host port, so I'll write debugging info to a file on a USB thumb drive as well. With a high clock speed (180MHz), lots of Flash ROM (1MB) and RAM (192K), and plenty of I/O, it should be a generous platform on which to build.

I guess I should revisit my series on setting up a FOSS cross compiler toolchain and figure out how to configure it for the STM32F4 series.