ECE News

 
Releases

2004 Annual Report

Winter 2004 Connection

Fall 2003 Connection

2003 Annual Report


Head Letter

Chair Letter

Features
Underwater
Robots

Diagnostic
Imaging

Fuel Cells

E-Textiles

Embedded Sys.

Wireless Video Networks

Demand for ECEs

Networking
Course

 
ECE Research Update

 
Research News

Preventing
Reverse
Engineering

FPGAs &
Multi-Physics

Low-Power
Videoconferencing

Error &
Defect ID

Wavelets
in Hawaii

Cross Layer
Optimization

UWB & Communications

Holey Fibers

IPEMs

Blue Diamond
Transistor

Largest MOS
Controller Power Switch

New Power Monitoring

Virtual Hospital

Museum AVs

2001/2002 PhDs

2002 Patents


Winter 2003
Connection

 
Special Report:
What's Next for ECEs?
April 2003

Tech Autonomous Vehicles Round the Bend for Museum

While designing and building a museum exhibit about future transportation technology, a student/faculty research team has incorporated some new control robotic sensing and technology. The engineering team in the Flexible, Low-cost Automated Scaled Highway (FLASH) Laboratory is completing a scale model, autonomous vehicles, interactive kiosk, and display screen, which are slated for installation in two Virginia transportation museums.

The exhibit demonstrates infrared control, optical control, and magnetic control of autos. The cars conduct themselves around a track with hills and curves. The vehicle on board control system also maintains a safe distance from other vehicles and obstacles on the track. The obstacle consists of a falling tree that is activated by a spectator. The cars are programmed to go to the recharging station when necessary, while a separate track computer system monitors and controls how many vehicles are on the track at once.

The system uses magnetic field sensors or infrared sensors to determine the car’s lateral position. To track a white line on the road, the infrared sensors are used. An onboard camera transmits what the car sees and displays it on a large screen for the audience. A number of elements were integrated to make the system “kid proof,” including a mechanism to prevent an audience member from using the falling tree to crush the vehicles.

Implementing the control algorithms also proved challenging. “Theoretical control algorithms assume away a lot that we had to compensate for,” explained Mark Morton (MSEE ‘04). “For example, most of the algorithms we started with assumed an instantaneous turn on a curve, whereas our vehicles were decidedly not turning instantaneously.”

ECE students on the team include Morton, Patricia Mellodge, and Eric Moret. Pushkin Kachroo is the ECE team advisor. The FLASH laboratory is part of the Center for Transportation Research. The project is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Transportation as a part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. Co-sponsors and hosts include the Science Museum of Virginia, located in Richmond, and the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke.

 
Privacy Statement | Contact Webmaster

© 2006 Virginia Tech Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Images on this site are the property of Virginia Tech.
They may not be used for commercial purposes.

http://www.ece.vt.edu/news/ar03/museum.html
Last updated: Mon, Jun 30, 2003