The students at the University of Oklahoma have put together a robot that will surely join the other drones in our future robot overlord regime. This autonomous vehicle was produced to replace human security patrols which can be both boring and dangerous. Intent on delivering surveillance to most locations, an all terrain vehicle was used as the base. It can navigate by itself through an obstacle avoidance system and communicate video and audio wirelessly. After the break we’ll take a look at the systems that make this work.
The team implemented steering controls by mounting a geared motor to the front of the ATV. This steering motor interfaces with a gear they added to the steering column via a chain. Obstacle avoidance is facilitated by sonar sensors on the front and sides of the chassis. These sensors can detect ground level obstacles such as curbs.
The vehicle uses both pre-programmed as well as sensor-based behavior. To start, the patrol route is fed into the program. Once unleashed, the bot uses a combination of this data, as well as input from a GPS module, digital compass, and the range finders to complete its mission. All of these components are tied together by the onboard Toughbook in conjunction with a 16-bit microcontroller. A wireless router provides connectivity for transferring data as well as remote joystick based control if needed.
Project developers [Fares Beainy] and [Sesh Commuri] sent us their paper detailing the project (PDF). The readily available, inexpensive hardware used to complete this bot says a lot about how far we have come with technology. It shouldn’t be too much longer before this type of hardware shows up in your town sweeping the streets for criminal scum (or humans recently escaped from the processing facility).