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  • autonomous slot car - analog and digital

    Hi all.
    It looks like we've beaten Google to the market

    We'll release today the ALPHA version of autonomous vehicle firmware for any O2 chipped car.
    Note that this is not oXigen specific: once programmed, just place it on the track with no additional hardware (but one magnet under the track). NO lane changers, NO sensors, NO RMS needed, and FREE for anyone with a base oXigen system. Applies to analog and any digital systems, and of course you can still drive the car normally when connected to an oXigen controller.

    It's still Alpha, so anything can happen, but the car can run on any track, and as far as we can tell any digital system.

    It's a really simple concept. Press two buttons and the chip starts recording controller's data. Drive one lap. If you're happy, save the data, else reset and repeat. Disconnect the controller, place the car on the track, and see what happens.

    You need a oXigen chipped car, one SCP2 with oXigen controller to drive the car around in recording mode, and the dongle to upload the new firmware to the car. The only other thing that's needed is the oXigen magnet signalling where the finish line is - then you can have the autonomous car run wherever you want - analog or digital track.

    When it runs in autonomous mode, the car doesn't need (actually, it must NOT be connected to) an oXigen controller, so you can have pretty much as many cars as lanes, with no controllers, nor dongles.

    It works and it's simple, surprisingly good on our test track, fun to see and use, and you may test it during the Christmas holidays.

    It supports (this Alpha release) up to approx 7" lap time but up to 14 should be possible in future. The car sysnchs with the finish line, so longer laps may create greater synch issues, but as long as you brake early, and accelerate late and not too abruptly, it should work. What's most important is to avoid wheelspin, and drifting, both being completely unpredictable.

    Currently I would not recommend yet anyone without an oXigen system to rush buying one for this reason alone. There are a lot of other good reasons to buy oXigen but if you already have it give it a go and let us know.

    Look mom - no magnet:

  • #2
    Very cool!


    • #3
      Firmware is ready and can be downloaded at this link:

      Autonomous car Alpha 1 release

      1. Download the firmware and update your oXigen in-car chip via oXigen Bootloader.
      2. Link the car to an oXigen controller. ID number does not matter. Lift the car and put it back on the track.
      3. Notice the rapid flickering of the in-car LED, indicating a valid controller link.
      4. Press and keep pressed for 5" the UP and DOWN arrows at the same time. LED flickering slightly slows down then becomes slower, indicating 'recording mode' has started. Don't lift the car or you'll have to go back to step 3.
      5. Drive the car around the circuit. When the car detects the finish line, recording starts. Complete one lap, and the car stops.
      6. If you are happy with the lap you did, without removing the car from the track, press and keep pressed for 5" the UP and DOWN arrows at the same time, again. LED goes off. This indicates successfull transfer of the recorded data into permanent memory. If you're NOT happy, reset the car (remove from track and put it back), then go to point 4.
      7. Switch off the controller and place the car on the track, roughly 30 to 50cm (0.75 - 1.5 feet) before the finish line. After a second or so, the car will start moving.
      8. The car ramps its speed up to the speed it knows it must have on the finish line (first recorded value). Syncing takes place once the car detects the finish line magnet, after which lap playback begins. Note that as a safety measure, to avoid runaway cars, if the car doesn't detect a magnet within 0.5" after it starts moving, it will stop.
      9. To stop the car, remove it from the track or switch controller on.

      1. This is an Alpha release and the car moves around by itself. Hence, as there may be bugs in the code, the car may deslot at full speed with possible damage to the car or whatever it happens to hit. We've put in safety measures to avoid runaways but you never know.
      2. As you may have noticed, the autonomous movement is only enabled when the car is not linked to a controller. No dongle required either (other than for programming). For those who know oXigen's inside outs, a car which is not linked to a controller can be given a new ID, or sent in bootloading mode. This means that an autonomously running car may be inadvertently be linked to another controller, or sent into bootloading mode while running. To avoid this, a new ID can only be given, or bootloading can only be enabled, if the car is reset with a magnet under the Hall sensor - I.e. like when it's resting on the finish line - as described in the 'Relinking Controller and Car' paragraph on page 14 of the oXigen base manual. If you want to revert the firmware back to a 'normal' version, you must also have the magnet under the Hall sensor at boot, to initiate the procedure.

      TRICKS and TIPS
      1. Drive conservatively, avoid wheelspin, and drifting, both being completely unpredictable. Don't push too hard and don't expect to brake at the very last moment.
      2. Brake early, coast into turns, and accelerate smoothly to give some space for slight position skew around turns.
      3. Remember that the car must start abot 30-50cm before the finish line, to give it time to catch the speed it had when the lap was recorded.

      Enjoy and let us know. Drive safely


      • #4
        Latest bugfix release
        Have a great 2016...


        • #5
          The final release, for the time being, of the Autonomous car, is here.

          What's new:
          1 - maximum recorded lap time approx. 9.5"
          2 - after the lap to be recorded is completed, and up+down buttons are pressed to start the data transfer to non volatile memory, the LED goes off until all memory is successfully transferred and saved. Communication between the car and the controller restarts only once data is safe. You MUST wait until this happens before removing the car from track or you will only get a partial recording!
          3 - some tuning and bug fixing
          4 - if the lap length exceeds 9.5", the car slows down to the default pit lane speed until it crosses the finish line again, where the synching restarts.

          The most critical thing that we've come across, apart from the advice that we've given that can be summarized with 'drive smoothly and allow ample braking and acceleration areas', is as follows: when the car starts its first autonomous lap, it accelerates from zero to target speed with a smooth ramp, then keeps the target speed for 0.3", then it goes off if no finish line is encountered. This time limit serves to avoid cars from running away forever. Thus, depending on the distance from the finish line and on the target speed, it may not cross the finish line with the expected speed, hence the first lap may be the most difficult to finish properly. It may be necessary to adjust the starting position (closer to or farther away from the finish line) so that the first lap is successfully completed in the best possible way.
          I also suggest to try crossing the finish line, at the beginning and at the end of the recorded lap, with the same speed.

          Autonomous Car Firmware


          • #6
            Hi Maurizio,

            New to Oxigen so may be a dumb noob question;
            I'm currently running the following firmware:
            SCP2 - v2.25
            Dongle - v2.13
            B Chips - v2.13

            Which appears to be the latest, is autonomous mode operational in these versions or only the firmware provided in your link?

            EDIT - I just checked the versions and I see that boot_car is v3.15, so I think I know the answer.
            If I update to 3.15 can I downgrade to 2.13 if I have any issues?

            Last edited by Scorpio; 06-22-2016, 03:10 AM.


            • #7
              Yes. Firmware changes can jump around to whatever firmware you want, old or new, special or standard, with no problem.


              • #8
                Problems with Autonomous

                Hi Guys,

                I've had a good few tries now with this but I'm not having much luck.
                2 issues i see:
                1. The car will only play back one lap then stops
                2. Playback mode - the car does not run at the speed I drove while recording - runs about half the speed.

                One other thing I have noticed is that since installing boot_carB1_3_15 when running in no-autonomous mode, if the car de-slots it can take between 5 -10 seconds before the car will respond to the controller.
                This puts the driver of this car at a distinct disadvantage if they de-slot.

                I also now have another problem with the bootloader sw but I'll start a new post as it is not directly related.



                • #9
                  This firmware was meant specifically for use as an autonomous car. If you want to race it, put the proper firmware into it.

                  I'll see if I can find some time with this firmware in the next couple days, and report back my findings. Hopefully I can find something that can help you, if or others don't respond sooner.


                  • #10
                    Hi Mr F

                    I realise the fw is not for racing. Sorry the point was more an observation.

                    I've only chipped four of my cars so far so I am currently a bit limited on choice. Eventually i'd like to dedicate a car to autonomous mode but that luxury will come later.
                    Being new to Oxigen I'm still exploring all the options.

                    Currently I have 2 GT40's and 2 McLaren GTR's so I can run similar classes.
                    I plan to chip my Scaly McLaren P1 as my autonomous car as it is fast and very stable. That should happen in the next couple of months but I plan to chip both my Audi's and both my Porshe's next.

                    Really enjoying this though.


                    • #11
                      Maurizio may be out of the office for a while

                      I believe Maurizio is in China right now, so there may be a delay in reply.
                      Documenting issues found can greatly help with the development of oXigen. We are doing a lot of testing here at the ScalerRacing Center.

                      Alan Smith
                      SCI Owner.



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Scorpio View Post
                        1. The car will only play back one lap then stops
                        2. Playback mode - the car does not run at the speed I drove while recording - runs about half the speed.
                        1) How long is the lap/time? The recording can only be 9.5s long. If it's longer, there will be problems like that. I noticed it when I did a really slow lap trying to see if lane changing did anything.
                        2) Might not be detecting the S/F line correctly. The code puts the car at pit lane speed until it finds the S/F line in order to begin the recording.

                        Originally posted by Scorpio View Post
                        One other thing I have noticed is that since installing boot_carB1_3_15 when running in no-autonomous mode, if the car de-slots it can take between 5 -10 seconds before the car will respond to the controller.
                        This puts the driver of this car at a distinct disadvantage if they de-slot.
                        Yes, this is due to the nature of the firmware. Same thing happens to me.

                        As it says in the instructions, it's definitely important to drive conservatively when recording. Like most other autonomous car systems, I'd say it's best to go ahead and leave the magnet in the auto-car, and set it up to try and get a lap as close to those who will be racing against it with mag-less cars.


                        • #13
                          Success - rollback!

                          OK, I managed to rollback to boot_carB1_2_13 from boot_carB1_3_15.
                          Took quite a bit of fiddling with the magnet and the position of the hall sensor.

                          I used a stock CN07 race magnet with the 4 small dimples uppermost to the underside of the track.

                          When I placed the car/hall sensor directly over the magnet the car would take off in playback mode.
                          If I placed the car about 5mm behind the magnet then I was able to get bootloader to connect & re-flash.

                          The black line on the car is the position of the hall sensor and you should be able to make out the line on the track indicating the position of the magnet.

                          Hope this helps

                          Last edited by Scorpio; 08-03-2016, 01:22 PM.


                          • #14
                            I'm pretty sure I tried this, but I'll try again soon.
                            When you did this, did your car run the motor for .5s until it stopped because it didn't see the magnet? At what point did you start the bootloader searching for the chip? Before? During? After the wheels moved?


                            • #15
                              I was persistent, I just kept trying different positions. I noticed that I got a solid red light on the chip. The wheels did not turn. Once I got over the excitement that the car was still stationary I lifted it off the track. Tried a few more times and noticed I could repeat it.

                              I got bootloader ready, selected car B1. With the bootloader dialog on screen i placed the car on the track and hit return straight away.

                              I hope you have some success too.