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Designing RC-controlled vehicle collision avoidance systems

Posted: 08 Mar 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Silego  vehicle collision avoidance system  RC car  GPAK4 

Around the middle of last year, the folks at Silego offered 25 free GPAK4 development kits to whoever could tempt me with the tastiest of tempting ideas for GPAK4-related projects. As you may recall, I tend to think of GPAKs as teeny-tiny mixed-signal FPGAs that you can design and program in just a few minutes and that cost only a few cents each. The idea was for Embedded.com and EETimes.com community members to email me to tell me why they deserved one of these little beauties—to excite me and delight me with descriptions of the amazing hobby or work projects for which they might feature one or more GPAK devices.

Once Silego had dispatched the development kits, it wasn't long before one of the lucky recipients, J.R. Stoner, showed us how to implement a GPAK-based multi-peripheral controller. Sometime later, this was followed by Wojciech (Wojtek) Rynczuk's GPAK-based light-following device.

In turn, this was followed by the release of the GPAK5 family, whose members boast on-chip asynchronous state machine (ASM) and I2C communications capabilities. And then, Victoria Yatskulyak from Silego emailed me to say: "Hi Max, take a look at this video showing an RC-controlled vehicle collision avoidance system implemented using a GPAK4 device."

How cool! I immediately responded to Victoria saying: "I love it. Can you get someone to describe this is more detail and include the GPAK4 design file so others can download it and play with it?" All of which brings us up to a few days ago, when I received the following from the guys and gals of Silego's application team:

Few activities offer such unencumbered joy as racing RC cars. Zipping through neighbourhood streets with impossibly tight handling, RC cars weave around ankles and other obstacles until the inevitable miscalculation, slightest loss of traction, or lapse in depth perception leads to a collision. More often than not this means the end of the fun, a dent in the wallet, and maybe even a sore ankle or shin. But this is 2016. Modern luxury cars have collision avoidance systems, so why not RC cars?

Collision avoidance system

Figure 1: Block diagram of collision avoidance system (Source: Silego)

We—the applications engineers at Silego Technology—have devised a way to solve this issue using a fourth-generation member of Silego's flagship GPAK product, thereby saving you money, heartache and Band-Aids. GPAK is an incredibly small, programmable, mixed-signal IC designed to implement a variety of circuits, including glue logic, timing adjustments, IO expanders and more, thereby enabling designers to add features and differentiation to already highly integrated systems. GPAK devices are available in a wide variety of resource configurations and packages. With components like counters, delays, look-up-tables, digital comparators, PWMs, internal oscillators, and more, we were able to implement an ultrasonic collision avoidance system with the following features in the SLG46620V GPAK 4: a remote switch to enable/disable the collision avoidance system; stopping distance proportional to the car's speed (throttle input); front LEDs to indicate system status; and rear LED brake lights.

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