|Document Type:||Master's Thesis|
|Name:||Charles Dean Haynie|
|Title:||Development of a Novel Zero-Turn-Radius Autonomous Vehicle|
|Degree:||Master of Science|
|Committee Chair:||Charles Reinholtz|
|Committee Members:||John Bay|
|Keywords:||Autonomous Vehicles, Sensors, Navigation|
|Date of defense:||August 5, 1998|
|Availability:||Release the entire work immediately worldwide.|
This thesis describes the development of a new zero-turn-radius (ZTR) differentially driven robotic vehicle hereinafter referred to as NEVEL. The primary objective of this work was to develop a device that could be used as a test-bed for continued autonomous vehicle research at Virginia Tech while meeting the entry requirements of the Annual International Unmanned Ground Robotics Competition. In developing NEVEL, consideration was given to the vehicle's mechanical and electrical design, sensing and computing systems, and navigation strategy. Each of these areas was addressed individually, but always within the context of optimal integration to produce the best overall vehicle system. A constraint that directed much of the design process was the desire to integrate industrially available and proven components rather than creating custom designed systems. This thesis also includes a review of the relevant literature as it pertains to both subsystem and overall vehicle design.
NEVEL, the vehicle that was created from this research effort, is novel in several respects. It is one of the few true embodiments of a fully functioning, three-wheel, differential drive autonomous vehicle. Several previous studies have developed this concept for indoor applications, but none has resulted in a working test-bed that can be applied to an unstructured, outdoor environment. NEVEL also appears to be one of the few autonomous vehicle systems to fully incorporate a commercially available laser range finder. These features alone would make NEVEL a useful platform for continued research. In addition, however, by using common, off-the-shelf components and a personal computer platform for all computation and control, NEVEL has been created to facilitate testing of new navigation and control strategies. As testimony to the success of this design, NEVEL was recognized at the Sixth Annual International Unmanned Ground Robotics Competition as the best overall design.
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