Tango take the Wheel

Johnny Lee, my boss a couple links up, recently showed off at Google I/O a reel of recent research improvements on Tango. Possibly not as exciting as the other stuff in the video, but at the 1:19 mark in the video you’ll see some research by me and my coworkers to see how well Tango works on a car. As you can see it works really well and we even drove it 8 km in downtown San Francisco through tourist infested areas. Surprisingly or not, the mass number of people or the sun didn’t manage to blind out our tracking.

How did we do it? Well we took Tango phone and quick clamped it to my car. Seriously. Here’s a picture of a Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and a Asus Zenphone AR attach to my car and me in my driving glasses. We ran the current release of Tango and did motion tracking only and it just worked! … As long as you shut off the safeties that reset tracking once you exceed a certain velocity. Unfortunately you users outside of Google can’t access this ability as in a way these velocity restrictions are our own COCOM Limits.

Also, this is something really only achievable with the new commercial phones. The original Tango Development Kit didn’t include good IMU intrinsics calibration. The newly produced cellphones at the factory will solve for IMU scale, bias, and misalignment. At the end of each factory line, a worker places the phone in a robot for a calibration dance. Having this calibration is required for getting the low drift rates. Remember our IMUs are cheap 50 cent things and have a lot of wonkiness that the filter to needs to sort out.

Old Solar Car Videos

When I was in college, a large part of my life was defined by our Solar Car team. Life has changed since then and I rarely do any work now that would be considered truly Electrical Engineering. Anyways, YouTube found my old Google Video account. Here’s some videos of us testing a mock chassis with the wheel arrangement we wanted to use in the competition. We were pulling high speed turns at 30-40 MPH to prove that the car wouldn’t roll. What’s not shown in these videos is what happened when it rolled the night before without the batteries in the chassis.

It was a stressful but educational time. There are not a lot of places where a group of young kids (I was 19 then) get access to a lot of tools and hardware and then can build whatever they fancy. Luckily that seems to be changing somewhat with hackerspaces.