Ottawa-tonomous Car System Test Run
It may seem like magic makes the wheels of our miniature cars turn, but there is a method to the madness of these tiny spinning wheels. Stan, Norm and James, our in-house Vehicle Ops specialists, have adapted software from a system originally developed by Danish company Games On Track. Our team has managed to make the vehicles of our miniature streets behave in an eerily life-like way. So much so that you might be fooled into thinking a real mini-person is actually behind the wheel!
This software has been only recently approved for use in North America, and we thank our friends at Gulliver’s Gate for helping to pave the way for its introduction to this continent. Our Home & Miniature Land is pumped to be pioneering Canada’s first truly autonomous vehicle system - Hey Alexa, tell Jeff Bezos to give us call!
Check out all the action in this video.
So, how does it all work? In our miniature vehicle driving system, there are four elements the system takes care of: speed, position, direction and intersection.
1. Speed: How the cars move in relation to each other and the roadways. Speed is managed using radio by the GT command software.
2. Position: Uses sound in the ultrasonic range via our “miniature” global positioning satellites. Using the speed of sound and three point location, the system can triangulate the position of our vehicles to within 10 millimetres. Pretty spot-on, even in 1:87 scale.
3. Direction: Our Vehicles Ops team adapted the European software and created the hardware, which provided the ability for vehicles to move straight and either left or right (but not both), to allow for 5+ directions – pretty much everything our miniature drivers could want except maybe a 5 point turn. Once again our intrepid tech team tackled the constraints of the commercially available options and bench tested a method for 5 directions, which will accommodate the wheelbase of both large and small vehicles.
4. Intersection: We designed and prototyped a miniature intersection controller using open source hardware and custom code. Our version is very similar to the grey control boxes that can be seen in the real world. This controller is unlike anything commercially available since it does not simply cycle the traffic lights but also communicates with the system to ensure that our miniature drivers make their stops in true Canadian fashion.
And for added realism, our team adapted the software to expand our traffic light options beyond the commercially available red and green to include all three phases of traffic lights - red, green and yellow. Why? Because in miniature Canada, our mini citizens actually slow down on the yellow light!
The potion for all this magical motion is our Vehicle Ops team. Our Ottawa test run has been a big milestone for us, and we’d like to thank Stan, Norm and James for their tenacious efforts to bring this piece of our miniature Canada to life. If you happen to bump into them on a future visit – they’re the ones wearing the white lab coats – please let them know what you think.