I've been writing programs for several years, as a hobby, even before I got my first computer
(Tech college, night school). But when you switch the computer off, they don't exist.
So I wanted to create something that did exist, but was still programmed.
Having an interest in electronics and basic engineering, building some sort of robot seemed
like the ideal solution.
Since the launch of Beagle2 in 2003 I've been fascinated by space exploration.
I watched many programs on the building of Beagle2, and it was such a disappointment when it
failed to respond after landing on Mars.
Later that year, 2 American rovers 'Spirit' and 'Opportunity' landed safely, and are still working to this day(2010). Which considering they where only expected to last for about 90 day's they have being working for over 6 years.
A must see is an 'Horizon' documentary, shown on the BBC about 2 years ago.
This involve several companies and Universities competing for a $2,000,000 prize from 'DARPA' to
create an unmanned vehicle, that could navigate over a preset desert course, well over 100km long,
and return to the starting point. Vehicles included cars, vans, an army truck and even a motorcycle!
all driven by computers, using laser beams and GPS etc. Absolutely amazing seeing the development
of these vehicles.
Recently I watched a program on BBC4 about a mission to send a probe to Titan, one of Saturn's moons,
more great stuff. It's just amazing how they can calculate how to get an object in exactly right
place, which is over a billion miles away, and receive usable data from it.
The mission begins!
So I decided to build my version of a Mars rover, to explore my living room!!
This has turned out to be more demanding and time consuming than I ever imagined.
The basic starting point was to build a rover that would move around without bumping in to anything,
simple enough! About 6 years later and I'm still trying to achieve this!. Having said that,
this is, and probably always will be a work in progress. Even though most of the sensors work
very well, I'm always trying to find ways to improve them.
What really interests me, is telemetry, the rover sending data from the living room, and 'mission control' receiving it in another room. Great stuff.