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Linux-powered PS3 helps pilot autonomous SUV

Aug 9, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

A private R&D company in San Diego, Calif., has definitely proven the “Repo Man” axiom that “the more you drive, the less intelligent you are.” Axion Racing is using a Sony PS3 running Linux in an autonomous vehicle said to have driven Colorado's Pikes Peak.

Axion Racing's “Spirit” UAV (unmanned, autonomous vehicle) is built on a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The vehicle's cargo area appears to be stuffed full of power-hungry Dell servers, along with “SICK laser finders, Bumblebee stereo cameras, and FLIR infrared cameras all guided by twin Navcom Starfire GPS units,” the company said. Another component is a Northrop Grumnan LN-270 INS, said to use the earth's inertia “to help keep Spirit on track during any GPS multitasking issues.”

To its existing collection of equipment, Axion added a Sony PS3 running Yellow Dog's PS3 Linux implementation. The PS3 also runs software said to “quickly examine information from a RGB road finding camera.”

As a 35-member company, Axion is proud to have qualified fifth at the 2005 DARPA challenge, where it was among only five teams to complete all runs, it said. Subsequently, the team decided to add a Sony Playstation3 to the mix.

Team Leader Bill Kehaly jokes, “We felt having cars drive themselves was getting a little too easy, so we threw the Sony PlayStation into our bag of tricks.”

Axion said it is currently readying Spirit to compete in the November 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, which will feature UAVs conducting “simulated military supply missions in a mock urban area.” The team will participate in a qualifying round in Fontana, Calif. on Oct. 26-31. The Challenge itself takes place Nov. 3rd at a “still unspecified location,” according to Axion.

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