Road to Markku

You know the feeling you get when you realize you messed up and there is no return. Sometimes it’s the accidental git push to production branch or the slipped tool when assembling furniture. Sometimes it’s more about what you’ve said and not what you’ve done.

About four months ago my coworker Paul ran into this open source project for building an autonomous vehicle using RC car as base. He shared the link in our internal communication group called Tinkering Club asking if we should buy the hardware. After all we have this 3x2 decision making framework and they thought it would fit. Paul just happens to work at Futurice Helsinki site and I carry the mighty Tammerforce cape so obviously I asked them to buy another set of hardware for us too. But after that some inner demon took my fingers and typed another message including a gif:

– of course it would become harder, better, faster and stronger than yours. And actually we already know how the race will be.

Autonomous driftingAutonomous drifting cars

It was then that the Feeling came. It wasn’t the first time I got carried away and challenged someone to something. I knew all my free time would be gone and that I would not be able to do this by myself, so I would have to drag my coworkers down the same drain. A minor effect on all this is that I had only very little experience on neural networks or machine learning. Of course in retrospective, this has been the most awesome of all the rabbit holes I’ve fallen into. That open source project was btw called Donkeycar.

Now after these months we have an autonomous vehicle doing laps on the fourth track we’ve built. We have multiple software utilities in use and a pile of ideas waiting. We have visited a web development podcast Webbidevaus (in Finnish) as guests talking about AI. One member of the team has even bought multiple used cars for himself just because RC cars are so awesome. And as it comes to the original challenge, we now have even lured some other Futurice sites to join the huge race coming in the near future.

Our car also recently joined Twitter.