Mojavaton consists of 6 team members that worked on the design and construction of the robot hardware. The remaining 14 members worked on the software.
Developing a Robot for DRC:
Use a quadruped robot. A four legged robot has better inherent stability than a bi-ped. By using four legs we could spend more development time on all the other behaviors.
Make extensive use of 3D plastic printing. This allows for a lighter robot and for parts that could not be made using traditional metal machining techniques.
We have tried to follow Colin Chapman’s design advice: “Simplify, then add lightness”. (Colin Chapman was an automotive designer and the founder of Lotus Automobiles)
Involvement in Prior DARPA Challenges:
Team Mojavaton competed in both the 2005 and 2007 Grand Challenges. We finished in 13th place (out of the 195 original teams) in the 2005 Grand Challenge. Our autonomous Nissan Xterra drove at a competitive speed until the servo motor that controlled the throttle ceased functioning. The car’s velocity dropped to walking speed with the engine at idle and it continued to drive autonomously at 3 mph along the course for another mile until the course went uphill. The car’s computer was calling for more speed, but the throttle servo did not respond. So it came to rest at the foot of the uphill climb at the 23.5 mile mark.
Most of our team members are either professors or students at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Seven team members also participated in the 2005 and 2007 DARPA Grand Challenges with Team Mojavaton.