The history of Gamblore is still in its early stages, as it is still under development. That doesn't mean information can't provide to show some insight into why it is being built and certain design choices were made. The Robotics Laboratory has a history of trying to build the best vehicles for the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), and Gamblore is a culmination of what we have learned. The principle designers of Gamblore from the beginning are Daniel Barber, Brian C. Becker, and Richard Porter. Daniel and Brian have concentrated primarily on the software systems, with Richard designing the mechanical systems of the vehicle.
Originally Gamblore was going to follow a very similar mechanical design as Calculon. Calculon is an autonomous vehicle also built for the IGVC and is based off of a donated electronic wheel chair. Calculon has very good success in its software systems, but unfortunately is limited in its physical capabilities because of the constraints of the wheel chair. These constraints include slower maximum speed and a much more complicated control system. With Gamblore the designers wanted to a new platform which could travel at the maximum speeds the IGVC allows, but have a solid control system so that less development time was spent on making the vehicle drive straight and turn accurately. To resolve this issue, Gamblore will be composed of a custom frame and drive system using motors with built in control capabilities designed with interfaces to a computer in mind.
Since Calculon is composed of a fairly solid software system, it was in the interest of everyone to use this as a base on Gamblore. In the past, ground teams developed different software for each platform only sharing certain algorithms, but not the code base. Although this can lead to original designs, it does not make use of overlapping designs and maximize the use of software. Basically, multiple people would be solving the same problems at the same time instead of working together for the common good. To resolve this issue the Zebulon library was created. Zebulon is designed as a set of cross-platform C/C++ libraries for ground vehicles. Zebulon is based off of the software created for Calculon. The code base for Calculon was frozen, and then slowly ported to this new set of libraries and tools, taking the best parts and fixing the worst. This new set of tools in Zebulon is now shared on both Calculon, Gamblore, and other projects so that the risks associated with software development are minimized and the teams can work together. With this design choice, teams no longer have to recreate software for reading from a DGPS or compass, and could concentrate on the more important goals of controlling an autonomous vehicle.
The main drawback of sharing a lot of software is that Calculon and Gamblore can become too similar. The problem with similarity is that new ideas may not be tested and tried out, stifling innovation. Also, the IGVC has restrictions on bringing the same vehicles back to competition every year. There are requirements that designs must be significantly changed every year in order to compete. To prevent the issues of too much sharing on Calculon and Gamblore, the designers chose share only the base code but use different kinds of intelligence. Therefore decision making is done using different methods on both vehicles. This was to allow the teams to innovate, but still share as much work as possible. All methods used were still added to the Zebulon code base, so that they can be reused on other projects.
This section of the history is still undetermined because the vehicle has yet to perform in a competition. As this design progresses, this section of the history will grow.