Design Tips Programming For A Self-Driving Snow Blower Prototype

Since the advent of vacuum robots, designing programs for machines to conduct household chores has been an extremely popular challenge among home enthusiasts. Thanks to companies like iRobot, the average Joe can buy devices to automatically vacuum floors, mop floors, and more recently even mow the lawn. But there are still countless household tasks that can be automated in similar ways. With winter around the corner why not team up with a hardware buddy, bust out your programming chops, and take a stab at a self-driving snow blower prototype? To get your creative juices flowing, we’ve put together some tips for getting started with tackling this project.

Forget The Brains – It’s All About Logic

With the availability of sensors and hardware for huge amounts of data collection and processing, it’s all to easy to fall into the temptation of designing a nearly intelligent algorithm to tackle anything that the weather throws at your prototype. Here’s some advice – learn from those who have come before you and leave it down to simple logic.

Tinkerers have been making robots that travel all over enclosed areas with basic switches, relays, and capacitors for years. Don’t overthink it. Sure, a human could clean up the snow more quickly than a robot programmed with basic logic, but that’s not the point. What you are trying to do is negate the need for human interaction in snow removal, rather than removing the snow as efficiently as possible. Keep this part simple and straight forward, your brain power is going to be needed for the more complex programming tasks that will follow.

Adapting To Different Types Of Snow

One of the biggest challenges you will face is programming the prototype to adapt to different types of snow. Snow can be wet, fluffy, a dusting, or a dumping. If you’ve ever used a snow blower in the past, then you know it can be quite easy to remove the snow from one storm and quite a headache to clean up after another. Your best bet is to start off on the right foot and choose a base model that is designed to handle the winter weather that is common to your region. After that, it’s going to come down to load and level sensors.

Load sensors might be best set up to measure the torque on the wheels, or the torque on the impeller – you’re creative design will come in useful here. The idea however is that you’ll want to throttle the speed of both the wheels and the impeller when the snow height and density changes. This will ensure that the robot is not only clearing the snow effectively, but also that it won’t get jammed up when it comes into heavy snow.

Additional Considerations – The Real Challenge

Designing a snow removal robot to clear snow from an enclosed, walled-off plot of land is one thing. What you’ll really need to think about (and what could really make for a great product!) is how the robot could work in the real world. How will the robot know when it’s reached the edge of the pavement, or the end of the driveway? How will it know when the snow is cleared so that it can return to the charging dock to prepare for the next storm? And perhaps most importantly, how is it going to know which direction is best to throw snow?

There are many factors that influence these design decisions, and they are probably the main roadblocks holding back the big companies from making snow-clearing robots today. If you can figure this out you’ll not only be a true prototyping champion, but you could stand to make some seriously big bucks and get into the game full time.

Take a Break from Programming and Try the Hottest New Trend: The Electric Skateboard

Being a computer programmer is not easy, it requires long hours of sitting in front of the computer designing, writing, and testing computer programs. It requires writing a source code in a special programming language that the computer can interpret which is not easy. The brain needs a break from the computer screen and needs to be distracted by a fun activity that will help relieve stress. What better way to relieve stress than to go outside and ride an electric skateboard.

An electric skateboard is a skateboard whose speed you control using a hand-held device or by adjusting your weight by tilting the board side to side. These skateboards vary in prices so you can decide how much you are wanting to splurge on it, they can range anywhere from $140 at Walmart to $1000+ by different companies. One of the hottest electric skateboards on the market is the LOU Board that offers a hidden battery, is water resistant, is super lightweight, has replaceable wheels, is manageable via an app, and is small enough making it portable, even on the plane.

When buying an electric skateboard there are three things to take into consideration and that is range, reliability, and speed. You want to be sure that the skateboard can travel a good distance before the battery needs to be recharged, you need to ensure that the skateboard material is reliable enough that it can withstand your weight and all weather and street conditions, and you want to ensure that it can travel at a decent speed because you do not want the skateboard to go so slow that you are barely moving and you do not want it to go so fast that you can barely keep your balance.

One of the fastest electric skateboards is the Boosted 2nd en Dual+ Electric Skateboard that is made of Bamboo material, uses a Lithium-ion battery that has a one hour charge time, and you can go up to 12 miles at a speed of 35mph, and it can hold a weight of up to 250lbs. Another thing to consider when buying an electric skateboard is the charge time, because many electric skateboards, like the Evolve Skateboards GT Street Electric Longboard Skateboard, Yuneec E-GO2 Electric Longboard Skateboard, Evolve Skateboards Bamboo GTX Electric Longboard Skateboard, MotoTec MT-SKT-1600 Dirt Electric Skateboard, and SKATEBOLT Electric Skateboard have charge times of 2-5 hours, and if that is something you are not interested in then electric skateboards like Boosted 2nd Gen Dual+ Electric Skateboard, Boosted Dual+ 2000W Electric Skateboard, MAXFIND Dual Motor Electric Skateboard Longboard, ACTON BLINK S Powerful Electric Skateboard, ACTON BLINK S2 Electric Skateboard, and Inboard M1 Premium Electric Skateboard have a charge time of 1-1.5 hours.

Buying an electric skateboard is not cheap so you want to be sure that whichever one you choose is something you can see yourself riding every day to give your brain break from computer programming. Each electric skateboard has something different to offer, so you will have to decide what matters most, the range the electric skateboard can travel, the speed at which it can go, the amount of time it takes to charge the battery, or the weight that it can withstand because some electric skateboards have a weight capacity of 130lb only like the ACTON BLINK Lite Electric Skateboard which also does not go faster than 10mph and no further than 5 miles. Take a look at all the electric skateboard options and choose one that will work best for you.