Machine Design

New backseat driver: A Pentium SBC

A computer-controlled steering system on a 1997 Chevrolet Corvette won the research category award in the PC/104 Embedded Consortium's 2003 design contest.

The system uses a combination of GPS information and automatic-steering intervention to help drivers avoid road hazards and stay alert. The modified vehicle uses a traditional steering wheel, but has sensors and a high-performance servomotor in place of a steering shaft. Two sensors measure the pinion and steering-wheel angles and let the driver control the car normally, until it gets into trouble. A VSCB-8 Pentium III single-board computer and digital I/O module from Versalogic Corp., Eugene, Oreg., process signals from the sensors and calculate how to position the steering actuator. The speed and accuracy of the system duplicates the response of normal mechanically linked steering.

Paul Yih, a graduate research assistant at Stanford University, is responsible for the design. The design contest winners were announced at the Embedded Systems Conference, San Francisco.

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