The Lone Wolf is a robotic vehicle created by Insight Racing and was an entrant in the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Urban Challenge. The challenge was part of a congressional-mandated research initiative to ensure that by the year 2015, one-third of military vehicles will function autonomously in an effort to help isolate troops from roadside threats. The Lone Wolf’s programming, which allows it to maneuver in traffic with no human assistance, also provides many opportunities for enhancement of future automobiles.
This unmanned, computer-driven Lotus Elise employs forward-thinking technology like Comtrol Corporations’ DeviceMaster®, which is instrumental in coordinating the car’s complex system of sensors necessary for autonomous operation. The DeviceMaster allows real-time data to be fed from vehicle sensors to on-board computers, enabling the Lone Wolf to react to intersections, other moving vehicles and traffic laws. Comtrol’s data communications products are widely used to connect and control peripheral serial devices in industrial automation applications, military sensor devices, process control and manufacturing automation devices, and transportation/traffic monitoring and control systems.
“We are pleased to have Comtrol as a sponsor. Their highly-reliable DeviceMaster helped us build a robust solution by delivering high-speed communication between sensors and our central processing,” said Grayson Randall, team leader for Insight Racing, “Comtrol’s products made it easy to communicate with all sensors and computers and gave us great application versatility and added redundancy to our systems. The DeviceMaster is an outstanding product.”
Jeff Wuendry, product marketing manager for SICK (provider of the sensing system on the vehicle) further explained how this sophisticated vehicle is able to operate autonomously. “The SICK Laser Measurement System (LMS) sensors are one of the key components of the navigation system, helping the car to ‘see’ using innovative laser radar technology,” Wuendry said, “The LMS relies on Comtrol’s DeviceMaster to enable real-time communication of terrain and obstacle data to the Lone Wolf’s multiple computer systems.”
The Urban Challenge was held November 3, 2007 and is the second time Comtrol, SICK, and Insight Racing have collaborated on an autonomous vehicle. At the Grand Challenge in 2005, Insight Racing’s original vehicle, the Desert Rat, placed 12th of 109 participating vehicles. In the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge Insight placed in the top 35 semi-finalists out of an original 89 teams involved.
“We’re thrilled to be part of this important collaboration with Insight Racing, and participating in an initiative to help save lives in military combat is an honor,” said Bradford Beale, Comtrol President, “We’ve offered innovative data communications products to military and industrial applications for a quarter century, but with this and many more applications in queue, we’ve really struck a chord with modern culture. We’re excited to see how this technology may effect each of them individually, as well as change the way we think of transportation as a whole.”
“Comtrol’s products made it easy to communicate with all sensors and computers and gave us great application versatility and added redundancy to our systems. The DeviceMaster is an outstanding product.”
Team Leader – Insight Racing