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Formula Pi is an autonomous racing series and robot racing club based around the Raspberry Pi.
Formula Pi is an autonomous racing series and robot racing club based around the Raspberry Pi.
106 backers pledged £8,685 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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£8,685

106

Formula Pi is an exciting new race series and club designed to get people started with self-driving robotics. The aim is to give people with little hardware or software experience a platform to get started and learn how autonomous vehicles work.

We provide the hardware and basic software to join the race series. Competitors can modify the software however they like, and come race day a prepared SD card with your software on it will be placed into our club robots and the race will begin!

You don't need to be in the UK, you can enter the series from anywhere in the world. Just join and send code to compete!

Formula Pi YetiBorgs on track
Formula Pi YetiBorgs on track

The Series

The series will consist of races hosted here at PiBorg. The races will be live broadcast for everyone to watch online. Races will consist of up to 23 laps (approximately 1/2km) with 5 competitors per race. The robots will be provided by PiBorg for racing.

Grid position, competitor list and club robot assignments are assigned with a random shuffle script.

Each competitor will be involved in a minimum of 5 races. We will have a complete structure once we know how many competitors are involved.

Anticipated race dates

Although these dates may change (especially due to amount of entries), we expect the following:

Winter series - from October 2016 - January 2017

Summer series - from April 2017 - July 2017

Formula Pi YetiBorgs ready to start
Formula Pi YetiBorgs ready to start

The Track

The track was designed and built at the PiBorg offices. The 22.9m track has 5 corners and can be run in either direction. There is a built in timing rig and start lights to control the race. The colouring of the track helps the software identify changes in direction.

Formula Pi track #1 - PiBorg
Formula Pi track #1 - PiBorg

The Robots

The YetiBorg HS Zero robots are a new design and will include our already successful ZeroBorg Kickstarter for motor control. The 2mm thick Aluminium chassis are made here at PiBorg.

YetiBorg 2mm aluminium chassis
YetiBorg 2mm aluminium chassis

When entering the races you will have a YetiBorg top (called a YetiLid). This is a fibreglass lid with a microsd card slot in it to conveniently store your code when shipping your top. The YetiLids will need to display a unique number for us to identify you and you can decorate your top to make sure you can see your robot.

YetiLid - top for your YetiBorg
YetiLid - top for your YetiBorg

The Software

We have written a basic control software which will be available to use. This will be available on the Formula Pi website and on github. The software can be modified by the competitors to improve performance. Or you can provide your own software if you like! It can be as simple or complex as you want.

The winners code is published at the end of the season, so everyone can start the next season from an equal standing. This helps the autonomous software improve and makes for a highly competitive sport.

History of Formula Pi

It took a lot of testing ideas and programming lots of different code before we got good results. Our very first run was less than successful! We eventually decided that if the track was painted in bright colours, the robots could dedicate more time to processing things such as the position of other robots, collision avoidance, traffic light detection and so on.

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Project status

We are ready to go racing with the exception of having a fleet of performance calibrated YetiBorgs for the club robots! This Kickstarter would allow us to buy resources to build robots for competitors to use for racing. The more successful we are, the more competitors we can host.

The track has been mostly built, but is missing a timing rig. We have a laser timing rig that we developed for Pi Wars and we will be adapting this with a Pi 3 and Pi Camera to take images of the cars as they pass the start/finish line. We can also use this to check for jump starts.

We are intending to buy basic cameras to allow us to broadcast the races on a platform such as Youtube. And this way we can capture all of the action on track and record the races for you to enjoy at any time.

The software is mostly ready, we still need to do a few tweaks here and there. We are working on blog material at the same time as coding, so you can see what we have done and why.

We have a domain and website dedicated to this project at www.formulapi.com where you will find rules, code and all sorts of useful information.

Formulapi.com blog
Formulapi.com blog

The Rewards

The rewards vary from race entry with a YetiLid to the YetiBorgs themselves. The YetiBorgs are high quality robots which can take the bumps and rubbing of racing.You don't need to have one to be part of the racing, but you might want one to experiment with autonomous robotics or just to drive like an RC car! They come with everything you need with the exception of a 9V battery and a Raspberry Pi Zero.

YetiBorg Raspberry Pi Autonomous robot
YetiBorg Raspberry Pi Autonomous robot

They are made from 2mm thick aluminum and they have high quality metal gear motors similar to a DiddyBorg motor. They also sport the ZeroBorg motor controller we had for our last Kickstarter.

YetiBorg high quality motor
YetiBorg high quality motor

The YetiBorgs are supplied with detailed build instructions and our normal high standards of PiBorg support. As always, if there are any problems with building or getting started, we're there to help on our PiBorg forum

YetiBorg build instructions
YetiBorg build instructions

This together makes an awesome Raspberry Pi Zero controlled robot!

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It is even capable of driving after flipping upside down!

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The Team

Paula Brown - robot assembly and shipping

Paula
Paula

Arron Churchill - software design

Arron
Arron

Timothy Freeburn (Director) - hardware design

Timothy
Timothy

Andy Frost - mechanical design and assembly

Andy
Andy

Claire Pollard - social media

Claire
Claire

The Future

Once we have run a few races, we hope to expand to include different types of robot and classes for different groups to allow experienced racers to learn new techniques once they've mastered the initial race type. We will have a high speed competition, and a battle race competition with ArmyBorgs - that is YetiBorgs with Ben Gray's fantastic MeArm attached.

ArmyBorg - YetiBorg Raspberry Pi robot with meArm
ArmyBorg - YetiBorg Raspberry Pi robot with meArm

Please help us get up and running to show the world that self-driving robots are awesome :)

Formula Pi angle
Formula Pi angle

 

Risks and challenges

Building the YetiBorgs: Parts such as motors and wheels may become difficult to get hold of. At best this would result in a small delay in shipping, at worst this could mean a product redesign.
We try to avoid this by only using suppliers whom we are familiar with to limit any difficulties in sourcing parts.

Delivering code to us: we are hoping to have an FTP site for people to send us code as we realise builds could get quite large. So we are hoping to set up a system using traditional mail to transport full SD cards with the competitors software and we are also hoping to set the code up in such a way that simple changes mean sending individual files to us rather than a whole build. In short, if you just want to vary some settings you can FTP the code to us, but if you wanted to send a brand new build, you could mail us the SD card.

Having too many racers: We've limited the number of entrants to ensure we're not overwhelmed (which would be a lovely problem to have!). By limiting the number of entrants we're then able to give great support to each of the entrants to the series.

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FAQ

  • To give an equal chance to everyone, the software will be given to all competitiors at the same time. This will occur shortly after the Kickstarter has finished. This also allows us time to finalise bug fixing, structure and documentation for the code.

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  • We will run some lessons via online blogs, have a forum where people can post questions and possibly some real time Q&A sessions to give as much help as we can. We want to give every competitor a great start to learning about self-driving robotics, no matter what their coding experience is.

    Last updated:
  • The YetiBorgs support either the Raspberry Pi V1 or V2 camera. The Raspberry Pi is a Pi Zero. The Pi Zero, RPi camera, camera cable and microSD card are not included with the rewards which have a YetiBorg in them. The club robots have a Pi Zero with the V2 camera mounted on the front.

    Last updated:
  • The default code is Python. You may use any language, code, and libraries you wish, however you might want to keep to using our default code for a couple of reasons:
    1. If your code changes are small, you can send them electronically to us. If they are large or pull in other libraries etc., you will need to send the sdcard to us.
    2. The code tutorials, walkthroughs etc. will be based around the default code.
    3. You can discuss ideas, strategies and the like with other competitors who will be more likely to understand and help if everyone is using similar code.

    Last updated:
  • Yes, all the YetiBorgs come with the customisable lid. If you get a reward with entry, you can customise your lid design, put on your competitior number and send it to us where we will use it in the competition so you can see your robot.

    Last updated:
  • Yes you can! The ZeroBorg needs a female header to connect this. If you select a YetiBorg as a reward, we will ask if you would like a Pi3 or Pi Zero header in the surveys after the Kickstarter.

    Please note that the competition uses the Raspberry Pi Zero, not a Pi 3. We will likely have Pi 3's in future competitions.

    An image of a Pi 3 on top of a Yeti is available here

    www.piborg.org/images/YetiBorg/YetiBorg_Pi3.JPG

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.32

    Friend of Formula Pi

    Even a small donation helps us get the project off the ground. This reward subscribes you to Kickstarter backer updates.

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    32 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $13

    We'd like to help

    Donate to the project to help fund finishing the track, help supply club robots for others to use and receive a thankyou card from all of us.

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    4 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About $33

    Formula Pi Sticker

    Receive a "My other car drives itself" Formula Pi sticker and a thankyou card from all of us. At the same time your donation will help fund finishing the track, help supply club robots and help make the world more pro autonomous robots!

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £35 or more About $46

    Entry to Winter Formula Pi Series 2016

    Entry to the winter series of Formula Pi, receive a customisable YetiBorg lid.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £35 or more About $46

    Entry to Summer Formula Pi Series 2017

    Entry to the summer series of Formula Pi, receive a customisable YetiBorg lid.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £70 or more About $93

    Entry to both Winter/Summer Formula Pi

    Entry to both the Winter and Summer series of Formula Pi and get a customisable YetiBorg lid for a club robot.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $132

    Sponsorship

    Want to see your company logo around the side of the track? Then this reward gets your logo in 2ft by 2ft size on the side of the track for an entire season. 10 per series. First backers choose series first. We will vinyl cut simple designs.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $132

    Entry to both Winter/Summer and #1-9

    Entry to both the Winter and Summer series of Formula Pi and get a customisable YetiBorg lid for a club robot. Also you will be given one of the numbers #1-9 on your robot lid on a first come first serve basis.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £130 or more About $172

    YetiBorg robot

    Your very own YetiBorg robot to build and practice with at home.
    Requires Pi Zero, microSD, RPi camera & RPi camera cable.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £165 or more About $218

    YetiBorg Robot and Winter Series Entry

    Entry to the winter series of Formula Pi and your own YetiBorg to practice with at home.
    Requires Pi Zero, microSD, RPi camera & RPi camera cable.

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge £165 or more About $218

    YetiBorg Robot and Summer Series Entry

    Entry to the summer series of Formula Pi and your own YetiBorg to practice with at home.
    Requires Pi Zero, microSD, RPi camera & RPi camera cable.

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  12. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £200 or more About $264

    YetiBorg robot and Winter and Summer

    Have your own YetiBorg robot to use at home and entry to the winter and summer series of Formula Pi.
    Requires Pi Zero, microSD, RPi camera & RPi camera cable.

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge £500 or more About $661

    Cornery McCornerface

    Name the first corner on the track! (We won't accept anything rude, religious, political or offensive, but we will accept silly! Our decision is final).

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,322

    Official starter for the first race

    Be the official starter of the first race we do, and witness the race first hand with up to two others (friends / family). Take home your own Yeti and lid for racing at home (travel not included, you must be able to attend our office in Cambridgeshire, UK in person, or we will start the race on your behalf).
    Children must be accompanied by an adult.

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Funding period

- (31 days)