Little Dragon Gets Smart
Over the past few months Zhi Li has been working on a new test vessel. Something small and easy to deploy, while at the same time being capable of mimicking the 2-m vessel Trixie such that any code developed can be transferred over to the larger vessel. In essence, a navigation code development platform.
The boat picture below is the Little Dragon, a 1-m RC vessel which has been modified to work with the Xbee radio system, GPS and wind sensor used on Trixie. The two sensors relay information to a BeagleBone nested inside the vessel. The Beaglebone then relays this information through the Xbee back to the shore based computer.
The beauty of this system is in how the autonomous code is integrated. Instead of being downloaded onto the Beaglebone, the code is run wirelessly from the shore computer. For testing and trouble shooting navigation code, this allows changes to be made rapidly without having to bring Little Dragon back to the dock.
Little Dragon should be a great asset for this year, as well as future generations of the team, having successfully allowed the build of the vessel to be carried out independent of the testing of navigation code.
Below is the code that runs the communication and control system. Open to anyone and every one to use.