Monday, August 6, 2007

Finding the line! RC Car Racing To Win!

What's the point of practicing from a racers perspective? I mean, why waste all this time and car wear? Yeah, right! Practicing is one of the core components to becoming a good driver. This is the time where you get to discover how your car, and your driving style adapt to a new track or layout. Take the first few laps slow, think of your car going from corner to corner hitting your target spots. We will call them targets because it's a target that you will want to place the inside front tire of your car on every lap. These targets are normally a few inches from the edge of the board at each corner. The distance out from the board where you aim to target is dependent on your skill level. Remember: the goal is to drive such that your inside tire passes directly over all of these target points every lap. The more confident you become of your targets location and the better you get at judging these targets, the more your lap times will drop.

Tip: Always remain on or outside your targets. If you find yourself going inside your target then two scenarios will have happened: 1. You are finding that you crash a lot, or 2. You may have become a better racer and need to set your standards higher (or targets closer to the board). It is important to remain outside your target to ensure you are hitting your target well (not dodging in or mistakenly missing your target).

The best line to drive on entirely depends on finding the best set of targets to hit on each corner. During those first practice laps, don't even try to go fast but simply concentrate on accurately placing the car within a foot of your targets. With each lap you will develop confidence of the location of these targets and a feeling of how to place your car near them. You will begin to drive a tighter line with the eventual goal of consistently hitting every target point on every lap. The most important thing to take away from this sort of practicing is to commit to memory all of these targets so you can make judgments and alternative routes when there are pile ups, lap traffic or corner marshals in the way.Your trying to get a feel for the line you want to take.

Get comfortable with the targets locations and then you can start to build on your driving skills. When you drive through a corner decide how well you took it in accordance with your target and speed. Pay close attention to the sticky section of the track and then branch out. Focus on the ares of the track that require the most attention. While you are practicing, spend your time thinking about the two or three corners that you need the most help with and only worry about those corners until they feel comfortable. It's a good idea to constantly evaluate your performance in each corner while you're racing, and with each lap try to get closer to your target while carrying as much corner speed as possible.

It is important to use your race heats and main to improve upon your target/speed strategy. Use these races, just like you do practices, as tools to help you become a better driver overall. Even evaluate your lap times with the heat posts to see how consistent you where.

by: Todd Levi

The robot car racings

"The robot drove very well today," said Mike Montemerlo, the team's technical leader. "We have reason to be optimistic," said Sebastian Thrun, the team's leader. Both work at Stanford's School of Engineering.

The robot car, a Volkswagen Passat wagon named Junior, was asked to follow a preassigned course, obey stop signs, negotiate intersections with other traffic and go around stopped cars.

It does all this without any human involved -- it's not a remote-control car -- instead relying on position and orientation sensors, Lidar sensors, GPS signals and hardware and software to keep on course, steer, accelerate, brake and turn.

The site visit was held for representatives of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in a parking lot at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. The agency's goal is to be able to use more unmanned vehicles in ground combat.

They had allotted four hours to complete the tasks, but Junior was able to do it in about 2 1/2 hours.

Agency representatives will visit 53 teams to see how their robots perform. In August, DARPA will announce which 30 vehicles will move to a qualifying event in October. It's expected that about 20 vehicles will compete in the DARPA Urban Challenge race in November.

Two other teams with Bay Area connections, car Team Orange and the Berkeley-Sydney Team, will get site visits later this month.

DARPA staged its first Grand Challenge, a desert race, in 2004, but no team completed the rigorous course. In 2005, five teams did, and Stanford's sport-utility named Stanley did it the fastest and won the top prize, $2 million.

This time, DARPA is staging an Urban car Challenge, where vehicles must navigate through streets, parking lots, intersections and human-occupied vehicles instead of around sagebrush and cactuses. Prizes of $2 million, $1 million and $500,000 will be awarded to the top three finishers.
Today's event was held adjacent to Google's Mountain View campus, and Thrun said he expected many employees to come over to watch the robot cars this afternoon.

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