Autonomous Vehicle-Following Vehicle

Humanity has taken one step closer to Skynet becoming fully aware. [Ahmed], [Muhammad], [Salman], and [Suleman] have created a vehicle that can “chase” another vehicle as part of their senior design project. Now it’s just a matter of time before the machines take over.

The project itself is based on a gasoline-powered quad bike that the students first converted to electric for the sake of their project. It uses a single webcam to get information about its surroundings. This is a plus because it frees the robot from needing a stereoscopic camera or any other complicated equipment like a radar or laser rangefinder. With this information, it can follow a lead vehicle without getting any other telemetry.

This project is interesting because it could potentially allow for large convoys with only one human operator at the front. Once self-driving cars become more mainstream, this could potentially save a lot of costs as well if only the vehicle in the front needs the self-driving equipment, while the vehicles behind would be able to operate with much less hardware. Either way, we love seeing senior design projects that have great real-world applications!

36 thoughts on “Autonomous Vehicle-Following Vehicle

  1. I wonder why these guys and other projects I’ve seen using quad or go kart chassis convert to electric?
    (unless the engine is stuffed or on it’s way out)
    Electricity is just not very “physical”, what ever steering actuator will still have to be as “meaty” for a thing this size no matter what the power plant.

    Please don’t tell me it’s all about “being green” or no exhaust or noise!

    When my evil robot of doom accelerates, I want people to think the world is about to end!

    1. Friend of mine is doing something similar for his masters group project in EEE, there was a requirement for it to be completely electric too. Probably something to do with it being a EEE school but I think the idea of completely embracing new tech was a big part of it too. “Green” is a misconception that the hippies and liberals can stick with, Lipol batteries and massive supercaps arn’t exactly green to produce and they come by way of huge freight ships from one country to another before getting to your project ha

        1. it’s about life time energy/carbon foot print of a system, but I’m asking to much of you after all it take a logical understanding of facts and forethought to understand this.

          1. We all fail on estimating what 100 grams on a Lorry then a freight ship, and three more lorries actually costs in carbon foot print, it’s easy to complain about shipping. I would like to know more about you insights I’m seriously interested.

      1. Thank you DOminoEmbedded its more Liberal Green Religion, In my state they just discovered a huge lithium deposit I CANT WAIT until they mine that shit and fuck up a large swath of land. Not to mention the environmental cost of mining neodymium for the motors.

        The whole green movement is pure bullshit, until we have portable nuclear fusion or LENR which many are working including the navy who was awarded a patent in 2013. We are pretty much screwed at this population level. The biggest problem is all the “libtard” democrats who want to live in the CITY who shop at whole foods because they wont move to the country and grow their own. Not to mention all the “conservatard” republicans who want to drive massive ESUVEE not powered by diesel all over the place. Then you have the elite who fly 1000 Lear jets to a climate summit. That and they constantly want to tell everyone else what is moral and what they can and cannot own or put into their own bodies.

        Hippies are actually living the solution, my friend lives off grid and grows then preserves most of his food. Thanks to agribusiness and gov subsidy many family farms that decentralize food production have gone out of business. But yah isn’t liberalism and conservatism GREAT!

    2. Every time I am out mowing, I’m trying to think of how to make a robot for this. The lawn mower is a zero-radius hydraulic drive. It wouldn’t be hard at all to turn that into a robot platform with just a couple of heavy servos in place of the control arms.

      The only thing I can see from using electric over gas is controlling the transmission. Where electric would be forward or reverse and speed into a speed controller, gas would require working transmission gear selection and brakes.

    3. Electric motors are much easier to control precisely. For example, there is no need for a centrifugal or any other clutch to start from a stopped position and any gear can be reverse.

    1. Yes the “idea” is ancient, but this was a project to make an autonomous vehicle. Also this is the first time I have seen one with no colission avoidance, stereo cameras or GPS. They are working on that though. Yous should read the project page and Suleman’s website.

      1. Using it in an autonomous vehicle isn’t new either (I believe there’s at lease one army project to do this). Removing backup systems/fail safes isnt a good thing either. Cheap yes, safe no.

    1. This.
      This is exactly why this type of thing could only work in very specific situations, probably only on deserted highways. Around town? Not a chance. Around traffic? Lawsuit city. You get the picture.

      Despite the rate in which accidents happen, there will never come a time when I will trust computers to properly control cars. I’ve seen far too many glitches and lockups in my decades of working with computers to ever trust one to reliably handle a car.

      1. Unless you drive a car with no ABS, you already do (trust), like it or not..

        Not saying it’s good or bad, because peolple who depend on it, tend to crash when it fails.
        My car doesn’t have, but my car is also older than me.

    2. Easily solved. Other drivers simply need a signal informing them these vehicles are functioning as one. A funeral procession, indicated by a line of cars with their headlights on in the daytime, is an existing version of this. Something clearer and more attention-getting would be recommended for automated convoys, though; perhaps a unique style of flashing light.

      1. Manchester-coded flashing back lights? Have it where the extra brake light usually is (back window just over the trunk) and it would also help function as a tailgating signal when no longer seen (too close to see above the trunk)..

  2. Why not expand this idea to it being tethered to the vehicle? Perhaps you could even transfer power from the vehicle to the following unit via mechanical transfer of energy… Make it big enough to support an entire family for a mid-week and you have a winner!

  3. Hi! I’m thinking about building an electric go-kart for a competition. The vehicle must be autonomously run, and I don’t have much experience with programming/software engineering. I’m thinking I could use LabView and use some kind of bluetooth device to connect the program to the go kart’s system.

    This seems like a stupid question, but how can you control the steering and braking in your program?

    Thanks!

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