(Plus how to make your own 1: 8 scale papercraft robot model)
By: Joan Lane, Mapping Specialist, Starship Technologies
Every September when the new school year begins, many first graders get a little scared of the unknown. It’s not just about starting school and meeting new people, but also about the journey they have to take every day. They must learn and remember how to navigate their world and how to get to and from their classrooms. This can be made easier by a parent who can take the first few trips with their child and make them more familiar with the path, usually pointing to some interesting places along the way such as tall or bright buildings or road signs. . Eventually it would be trivial for the child to go to school and remember the path. The child will create a mental map of the world and how to navigate it.
Starship Technologies provides a convenient last mile delivery service where pavement delivery robots move around the world every day. Our robot has completed more than 100,000 deliveries. To get from point A to point B the robots need to plan a route in front of them which requires a kind of map instead. Although there are already many publicly available mapping systems such as Google Maps and OpenStreetMap, they have limitations in that they are designed with car navigation in mind and mostly focus on car road mapping. Since these delivery robots travel on the sidewalk, they need an accurate map where it is safe to travel on the sidewalk and cross the road just like a mental map of how a child needs to go to school safely and on time every day. So how is this map created?
The first step in creating a map for delivery robots is to explore the area of interest and create a preliminary map (2D map) on top of the satellite image in the form of common interconnected lines representing sidewalks (green), crossings (red), and driveways. (Purple) as illustrated in the picture below.
The system treats this map as a node graph and can be used to create a route from point A to point B. To run this route. The advantage of this process is that it can be done remotely before any robot physically comes to the site.
The next step is to show the robots what the world is like. Similar to parent-child similarities, robots need to hold hands when exploring an area for the first time. When the robot first drives, the camera and many of the robot’s sensors collect information about the world around it. It consists of thousands of lines that identify the edges of various features, for example buildings, street light poles and roofs. The server can create a 3D world map from these lines offline that the robot can then use. Like a child, the robot now has a model of the world with a guide post and can understand where it is at any time.
Since our robots need to cover different areas at the same time to complete all their deliveries, we need to create a single 3D map of a specific area by combining maps of different areas to be efficient. The integrated map is created piece by piece by processing different pieces of the new area until at the end the map looks like a huge finished jigsaw puzzle. The server will compile this map based on the line data previously collected by the robot. For example, if the same roof is detected by two robots, the software finds out how it connects to the rest of the map. Each colored line in the image below represents a single part of a mapping trip added to the map.
The final step in the mapping process is to calculate exactly where and how wide the sidewalk is, before the robots can drive fully autonomously. It was created by processing robot recorded camera images while incorporating previously created 2D maps based on satellite imagery while exploring the area as a reference.
During this process, more details are added to the map to accurately define safe areas for robots to drive.
Of course, the world around us is not static. There are daily and altruistic changes in landscape, construction and renovation, which change the face of the world. How can this affect areas mapped for robots? In fact, the robot’s software handles small to medium changes in the mapped area quite well. 3D models are powerful enough and filled with so much information that a tree is cut down here or a building is demolished there that usually does not challenge the robot’s ability to localize or use maps. And, additionally, as the robot rotates daily, it continues to gather more information that is used to update 3D maps over time. But if an area is completely converted, or new pavements are created, the solution is simple. Maps need to be updated using new data collected by robots. Then, other robots could drive autonomously in the same area again as if nothing had happened. Keeping maps up to date is crucial for robots to run safely and autonomously.
So far you can say no doubt, I really enjoy playing with the concept of 3 dimensional space. Whenever I played the first 3D first person shooter computer game (Wolfenstein 3D), the world of 3D in the digital domain became my interest. I wanted to create my own 3D world for computer games, so I found a way to edit existing game levels. Later, I also tried my hand at 3D computer modeling, which I found interesting. With the popularity and affordability of 3D printers, I have also started printing models physically. But long before that, during the school summer holidays, I liked to make papercraft models of different buildings and vehicles. It was an easy and inexpensive way to make something with my own hands, yet it was interesting to see how a 2D layout on a piece of paper could turn into a 3D model with little cuts, folds and glue. Basically, creating or “unveiling” a papercraft of a 3D object is, in a sense, the opposite of mapping. This is creating a 2D layout of the surface of a 3D object.
Since I have a passion for paperwork I decided to create one for our Starship Delivery Robots. The goal of creating this model is to enable others who can enjoy my similar passion for creating their own versions of my delivery robots. Creating a paper model is a fun challenge, and once done it also creates a beautiful decorative thing. Like creating a 3D map for a robot, creating a papercraft model requires precision, accuracy, and spatial thinking of how all the parts fit together. Also a good bit of patience.
I have created some guidelines for creating your own papercraft delivery robot and would love to see your efforts. Have fun and good luck making your own delivery robot paper model!
Please post a picture of your robot on Instagram and tag the tar starship robots so I can find them!
Find Starship Delivery Robot Papercraft models and instructions Here
Starship technology. Starship নক The design and technical aspects of the delivery robot are proprietary and protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws.