SparKFun WildThumper Automonomous Vehicle

Hi Everyone,

I am the proud owner of a Nano and a Xavier. I would love to create an autonomous outdoor vehicle for my next project. The SparkFun WildThumper looks like a good platform. Any idea where I can look to find code/instructions to turn one of these Jetsons into an autonomous vehicle? TIA

  • Dennis Faucher

Hi Dennis, you may want to check out the autonomous JetBot and JetRacer projects which you could modify to adapt the code to your platform:

Essentially you would add a camera to your robot (the JetBot and JetRacer use an IMX219 MIPI CSI sensor like Raspberry Pi Camera v2) and change out the motor controller driver in the JetBot/JetRacer code for the motor controller that you are using.

Thank you very much. How difficult do you think changing the motor code would be? I read that the 6 wheels are actually wired to act as two wheels - left and right. TIA.

If the motor controller you are using has a Python library that comes with it, it shouldn’t be too bad to swap out the Adafruit_MotorHAT library that JetBot’s motor.py code uses for the Python library that your motor controller provides. JetBot also has 2 motors, left and right.

Thank you @dusty_nv

On the WildThumper there are 6 pairs of wires one for each motor that are terminated in a screw terminal block so there are 2 pairs on the other side one pair for driving the left and one pair for the right side. I decided to use a Raspberry Pi with a Pololu motor HAT, separating the motor control from the Xavier.

@jjhwadsworth, do you have a write-up you can share? Thank you.

I used the POLOLU-3752 driver board with the Pi 3, and modified the code found here -

turning it into a ROS node so it could communicate with ROS nodes on the Xavier and connected the Pi to the Xavier via Ethernet. The driver board is powered with a 7.4V LiPo battery and the board supplies the power to the Pi. The Xavier has a completely separate power system using an external laptop battery. I did design and 3D print a small enclosure that the Pi and driver board sit in one of the lower open compartments and used the other compartment for the 7.4V LiPo. The external laptop battery sits on a mezzanine platform between the top plate of the WildThumper and the chassis consisting of an aluminum plate connected to the lower chassis with standoffs and with a rubber surround on the side of the aluminum plate to avoid damaging the tires if they bump into it. I have designed and 3D printed a number of different mounts to mount cameras to the upper plate of the WildThumper which is also where the Xavier is mounted. If you want to do something along the same lines I would recommend you have access to a 3D printer and learn how to do some CAD so you can mount things nicely, I used OpenSCAD as it’s just a different type of code to learn, though you could do the same thing with wood and some hand tools. Currently the system is used indoors, if you want to use the system outside you’ll need to think about shielding everything from water and dirt and also dealing with cooling. I hope this helps somewhat, good luck with your robot.

Wonderful. Thank you so much.