Emily’s Status Report 9/25/21

Because we have decided to change a lot of the hardware components of our system, I’ve looked into options for those changes.

We also have a concern about distracting the cyclist with the LEDs on the handlebars, so I’ve also looked into other indicator options. Vibration was suggested, but for a safety critical system, vibration is too unreliable considering that roads aren’t smooth and that in different weather conditions, the rider might be wearing gloves that could dampen the vibration. Audio was also suggested as a method of communicating to the rider. Audio queues would have to be repeated and run the risk of being too quiet to be heard clearly over city noise. There would also be cases of emergency vehicles causing very loud noise and cyclists wearing earphones. I looked into ways of mitigating the dangers associated with the LEDs, specifically their brightness in the dark. We can use diffusers so that the light doesn’t shine directly into the eyes of the cyclist. The diffusers will require that we pick out brighter LEDs since they decrease the output by 2-6%.

We have also decided to move away from the planned PCB for the system and to use an eval kit instead based on TA advice. This will allow us to better make changes to the system as problems arise. I haven’t used an eval kit before, so I spent some time looking into how to use/build with them. Overall, my schedule can now be moved forward somewhat since we won’t have to wait for shipping and can assemble and debug as soon as the parts are in. I’ve started work on the schematic, but the changes to the sensors and the LED response system need to be finalized before I can finish.

Team Status Report 9/25/21

This week we’ve had a lot of hardware updates to our project idea based on the feedback that we received from our project proposal. We are looking into using a static sensor array rather than a single 360-degree LIDAR sensor. This will hopefully allow us to update the system of new inputs more often.

We are also looking into using both ultrasonic sensors and LIDAR. LIDAR gives us more detection distance (up to 40m in favorable conditions) yet is less reliable in bright lighting conditions and could be affected by our LED indicators on the back. The ultrasonic sensors can’t cover as much distance as the LIDAR sensors but aren’t affected by the LED indicators. We plan on using them as the primary short-range sensor, ~10m or less. That way, when we have the LED indicators on, we know that the sensing isn’t being adversely affected.

We had originally planned on using a LED strip because the 360-degree LIDAR would give us enough information to report where the nearby objects were with more granularity. However, especially since we are switching to static sensors, we decided that we aren’t going to attempt to provide that much information. This will help us not overload the cyclist with excess information: the cyclist doesn’t need to know the width of the object closing in behind them, they just need to know that there is something generally to the back left, the back right, or behind them. More to this point, we have decided to go with zone LED indicators-similar to what you’d see for the side indicators for a car.

We received some questions about how exactly we are going to communicate to the cyclist about the conditions behind them. We plan on using a system where a steady light in a zone indicates the presence of an object that is tracking behind them, while filtering out stationary objects. Then, when there is what we consider a danger, like something closing in fast or that is very close to the bike, we are going to flash the LED of that zone. We are cognizant that we need to pick out LEDs that are bright enough to work in daylight conditions, while also not blinding/distracting the cyclist, especially at night.

From here, we are going to research these changes and their practical brand options, and integrate them into our design.

Jason’s Status Report Sep.25

This week we were able to successfully deliver our presentation, and soon after that we received feedback about some aspects of our technical design, particularly our choice of a rotating LiDAR to be used in outdoor conditions.

We had discussions as a team and, factoring in feedback from the professor and the TAs, started taking the idea of static sensor arrays more seriously, and I came up with some possible solutions that will enable us to satisfy our sensing requirements with much more reliable and long-range sensors.

I thought the biggest challenge using static sensors is losing resolution, however, running through some scenarios, I discovered that, since cars are quite large, we can safely assume that the closest object to our sensors would be a car. The only issue, then, is detecting if the edge of a car might collide with the biker. To mitigate this issue, I conceived of some concepts for sensor arrangement attached to this post.

For the next steps, we will calculate the exact requirements for sensing in different scenarios  and pick the most favorable arrangement of sensors based on that.

Albany’s Status Report 25 SEP 2021

As I was the presenter for our project proposal, prior to Wednesday, I spent this week predominately practicing my presentation and delivery to make sure I wouldn’t forget any pertinent details and would stay on schedule when speaking.

Following the presentation, I started working on some of the basic signals processing considerations for the sensor, attempting to figure out some basic cutoffs for showing sensed objects to the biker and trying to consider what issues might arise. One of the things I foresee might be especially problematic will be filtering out stationary objects.

Further following some comments from the professors and staff, and a small back and forth, the team is looking into other sensor options than the RPLIDAR and we are getting together later today to discuss some of the suggested options. One possible solution, were we to assure we had the budget for it, that I started looking at was using a mix of longer range lidar sensors to first detect the object in certain common look directions and then a set of ultrasonic sensor to give us a more complete FOV if necessary and be able to track when warning lights on the tail mount might interfere with the LIDAR.

Some of my thought process can be seen here: SignalsProcessingSensorConsiderations25SEP

Emily’s Status Report for 9/18/21

This week, I focused on researching for the project proposal slides. Starting with component research, I looked into what brightness of LED we should use for the cyclist indicators and the rear lights by looking into brightness standards for displays and car tail lights respectively. Then, I used our usage requirements and the current draw from the LIDAR, STM32F4, and the LEDs to estimate our power needs. I also assembled the GANTT chart from the information that Jason and Albany provided and made the system diagram chart.

Jason’s Update 9/18/21

This week I focused mainly on the selection of the processor and discussing with the team about slides. For the processor, I looked at the catalog of STM32 processors, discussed with my teammates about power and processing requirements, and decided to use the STM32F4 as a safe solution. For the slides, I focused mainly on the software and hardware testing, and worked with the team to refine the overall presentation.

Albany’s Status Report 18 SEP 2021

This week I worked primarily on creating the slides for the project proposal and preforming some hand calculations for new requirements and component selection. For the slides I focused on integrating our requirements throughout the rest of the presentation and fleshing out the section on our choice to use LIDAR and the needs to be met by the sensor in particular. This included some calculations about necessary range and angular resolution. Earlier in the week I also researched and compared two different rotating LIDARs from which the Slamtec RPLIDAR A1M8 was chosen due to better documentation and support as well as eye safety specifications. I also made some website modifications adding our current logo and a unique header picture.