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September 1998


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Autonomous Vehicles Sweep Design Competition

Virginia Tech's Autonomous Vehicle Team took top honors in the design phase of the 6th International Ground Robotics Competition in June. A team from the University of Colorado-Denver took first place in the performance phase. The competition is sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems and the Society of Automotive Engineering.

Teams from 11 universities competed, entering 15 unmanned ground robotic vehicles designed to navigate around an outdoor obstacle course without any human intervention. The course was marked by painted lines, and included hills, a sandpit, and random obstacles and barricades.

The vehicles were newly built or converted from existing chassis, including ATVs, golf carts, lawn equipment, and even a wheelchair. The vehicles were totally autonomous, carrying their power, sensing, and control equipment on board.

Vehicles were judged on their ability to navigate the course, as well as on their design. The design phase of the competition judged the design process, team organization, documentation, and innovation, among other criteria.

Tech's team of students from mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering, and computer science entered three vehicles in the competition: Nevel, Herbie, and Ivan. Nevel took first place for design, and Herbie and Ivan tied for second.

Each of Tech's vehicles represented nearly two thousand person-hours of design, fabrication, and testing. Nevel was built on a T-frame chassis, and used a video camera to navigate the course. The Nevel team also installed a laser range finder in the front of the vehicle to detect obstacles. The vehicle's control scheme was based on a potential field model. Herbie and Ivan both used video cameras for navigation and ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles.

EE and CpE team members included: Sarah Airey (CpE, '01), Patrick Coleman (EE, '99), Ryan Fong (CpE, '01), Peter Hanson (EE, '98), Timothy Judkins (CpE, '01), Charles Lepple (EE, '99), Jason Lewis (EE, '99), David Mayhew (EE, G), James Mentz (EE, '98), and Brian Veraa (EE, '00).

John Bay and Charles Reinholtz (ME) serve as faculty advisors. For more information, visit http://www.avt.me.vt.edu/.

The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, November 22 1998
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