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Interested in driverless cars? Now you can build (and race) your own!

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DIY Robocars UK – a new group in Frome – is running its Summer Bash at the Welshmill Pump Track as part of the Frome Festival, following monthly ‘hack and race’ events taking place at the Welshmill Hub in April, May and June. 

Hobbyists interested in building their own scale-model driverless car can buy commercially available kits or assemble their own cars with computer vision and a Raspberry Pi computer.

 Organised by local technology entrepreneur, Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, and supported by Edventure: Frome, the event will welcome programmers, robotics enthusiasts and modellers, as well as professionals from industry, students and enthusiasts all wishing to create their own scale-size autonomous vehicle, laden with pocket-sized technology and using artificial intelligence to teach the cars how to navigate around a track.

 Alex explained, “Autonomous vehicles are on the horizon, but most people don’t understand how they work. Having worked in the sector for a few years and now having my own company, I know that starting this, the first group of its kind in the UK, is a great opportunity to help promote a brilliant STEM activity. There are some amazing world-class organisations nearby working on exactly this sort of technology, and we’re sure to see some of them come along and maybe bring some of their own life-size toys.

“The skills of people getting involved are very diverse, just like the real autonomous vehicle industry – so whether you’re a model car racer, software developer, playing with robotics, electronics or mechanical engineering, or just starting to learn about computers, you’ll have useful skills to share.”

 Participants don’t need experience, and can get started from as little as £100 for everything needed (including all the hardware and software), but to make sure people are really able to take on the challenge of the Pump Track (the first time for any DIY Robocars group to take on such a challenge), the organisers recommend they join the monthly events beforehand to start developing their skills and experience.  

 Alex concluded by saying that while it’s a technically challenging activity, there’s lots of help available online: “As a new group, everyone’s starting as a novice, but there’s plenty of blogs and information online with a community of more than 10,000 fellow enthusiasts around the world in more than 50 other locations.  There’s free open-source code, a Slack channel and more, so join the find out more and join the group at www.levelfivesupplies.com/robocars”

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