Fail of the Week: Roboracer Meets Wall



There comes a moment if our job sees the light of day, openly presented to folks who are curious to find the results of our hard work, only for this to fail at a spectacularly awkward way. This is the dreaded “Demo Curse” also it recently befell the SIT Acronis Autonomous team. Their Roborace automobile gained interpersonal media infamy since it had been seen launching off the starting line and instantly to a wall. A team member explained what happened.

A few explanations had begun circulating, but only in the vague terms of an “steering lock” without much technical detail until this emerged. Steering lock? You mean like The Club? Well, kind of. While there was no steering wheel immobilization steel bar on the car, a software equal did take hold inside the car’so systems.  During initialization, though a human motorist was at the controls, one of the modules sent outside NaN (Not a Number) instead of a valid numerical value. This was not found in testing, and it wreak havoc at the worst possible time.

A module whose occupation was to ensure numbers stay within expected bounds said “not a number, not my problem! ” That NaN value propagated through to the automobile ’s CAN data bus, which didn’t specify the handling of NaN so it had been arbitrarily interpreted into a very large number causing further issues. This cascade of events led to a steering system locked to full right before the algorithm has been given permission to start driving. It desperately attempted to steer the car back naturally, with no effect, for a couple of brief seconds until it met the wall.

While awkward and not the sort of marketing the Schaffhausen Institute of Technology or their sponsor Acronis was hoping for, the team dug via logs to comprehend what happened and educated their automobile to manage NaN properly. Driving a backup auto, around two went very well and the team took second location. So they had a happy ending after all. Congratulations! We’re very happy this difficulty has been found and repaired on a closed track rather than on public streets .

[via Engadget]

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