I remember reading someone asking a question about 'follow mode' for rovers, because they wanted their heavy toolbox to follow them around the job site. I'm sorry, I can't find the post or remember the poster right now though. I think it's a brilliant idea.

Last weekend I had a chance to test a proof-of-concept for a harvesting-bucket. I strapped a bucket to the top of my wraith and drove it around all day as I picked blueberries. It was surprisingly easy on batteries, sitting in stand-by as I filled the bucket. It was only manual drive this time, as I wanted to check how the truck handled the ever-increasing weight of the berries.

The truck handled the uneven terrain between the berries quite well, although the bucket did hang-up a bit on low-hanging branches and required 3+-point turns to make it where I wanted. It looked a few times like there'd be a spill, but it never happened, the truck held on just fine.

We of course forgot to film until the very end, so here's a little video of the last run out of the field:

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  • Whether or not I use GPS for following, for my use I'm pretty sure already that I'll need sonar/visual avoidance code as well as some that uses the accelerometers to determine if I'm hung up on branches outside of 'visual range'. It's just too chaotic an environment for pure GPS, even if It had the accuracy necessary to stay within the rows. IMNSHO anyway.

  • ohh my an arduplane or copter that can follow you ? does it have freaking lasers attached ? (joke)

  • If you really wanted to do it right you would use a smart phone as the base station. A simple android or iPhone app should be ble to send your current gps position to the vehicle via 3G (probably required for aircraft) or Bluetooth (might work for a rover).

    For a rover I'm not sure gps accuracy would be enough to follow you down a narrow path. Optical trackin might be the answer in that case, or some kind of differential solution to provide much more accurate position to the ground station.
  • Thanks very much Bob, I knew I'd seen it in arducopter somewhere! And GPS-based, that's interesting, I think the others are almost all visual with some sort of high-contrast code.

    GPS could complicate the in-field use, you'd need a small on-person mavlink/field computer so you could pick w/o the encumbrance of a big laptop. I'm not sure a bluetooth GPS unit would have enough distance...

    Although, actually, if the vehicle was big enough, it could carry everything (bucket & ground station) then you'd only need wear a bluetooth gps on your person... would that work? Maybe reuse an old 701EEEpc as a ground station?

    Following a dirtbike should be easier, since the bike itself can carry all of the ground station hardware too. You'd need to be able to set a safety window of some sort, since the docs mention having the necessary safe altitude b4 you activate, and I'm not sure the planes have the same amount of altitude control as the copters do they?

    I'm not sure how hard it would be to port the code to plane/rover though. I'll have to dust off my programming if I want to get involved in this stuff it would seem. ;)

    My newbieness is showing I'm sure.

  • Adam I have been trying to figure out how to get my flying wing to follow me on my dirtbike any ideas?

    You can definitely do this with ArduCopter:

    I bet there is an ArduPlane equivalent.

  • There seems to be some work with the AR.Drone on this, I'm not sure if that's where I had first seen demonstrations of follow-mode or not. They apparently follow balls and things as part of their games, and the SDK seems to allow access to it.

    Some threads I've seen:

    But they are all ar.drone specific it would seem, and I can't find any other reference in my searches. I had thought I'd read it on here actually.

    From my initial reading they seem to be adaptations of line-following, so maybe something like the Tiny Wanderer would offer some useful information.

    I'm very new at all of this and still basically just reading and learning about core RC and basic arduino stuff right now. ;)

  • Sorry, I also meant to say that by the end of the fullest bucket (I'd estimate it was 3-4lbs of berries), it was riding quite low but still managed to climb over all the curbs and uneven terrain. For any more weight you'd definitely want to stiffen and strengthen the shocks and support mechanism, at the very least. For something like a heavy toolbox, probably a 1/8th vehicle would handle the extra weight better.

    That Wild Thumper looks like it would make an awesome platform, 5kg payload stock!

  • This was just manually driven right now as I said, no follow-mode yet.

    The farm-owner wants to see it next year, she was quite surprised how well it worked (as was I).

  • Moderator

    That was me who posted the idea of using an ardurover to follow me.

    So how about sharing how you did it.  I have a 6WD Wild Thumper all ready to carry my crap.

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