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Proceedings Paper

Conversion and control of an all-terrain vehicle for use as an autonomous mobile robot
Author(s): John S. Jacob; Robert W. Gunderson; R. Rees Fullmer
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Paper Abstract

A systematic approach to ground vehicle automation is presented, combining low-level controls, trajectory generation and closed-loop path correction in an integrated system. Development of cooperative robotics for precision agriculture at Utah State University required the automation of a full-scale motorized vehicle. The Triton Predator 8- wheeled skid-steering all-terrain vehicle was selected for the project based on its ability to maneuver precisely and the simplicity of controlling the hydrostatic drivetrain. Low-level control was achieved by fitting an actuator on the engine throttle, actuators for the left and right drive controls, encoders on the left and right drive shafts to measure wheel speeds, and a signal pick-off on the alternator for measuring engine speed. Closed loop control maintains a desired engine speed and tracks left and right wheel speeds commands. A trajectory generator produces the wheel speed commands needed to steer the vehicle through a predetermined set of map coordinates. A planar trajectory through the points is computed by fitting a 2D cubic spline over each path segment while enforcing initial and final orientation constraints at segment endpoints. Acceleration and velocity profiles are computed for each trajectory segment, with the velocity over each segment dependent on turning radius. Left and right wheel speed setpoints are obtained by combining velocity and path curvature for each low-level timestep. The path correction algorithm uses GPS position and compass orientation information to adjust the wheel speed setpoints according to the 'crosstrack' and 'downtrack' errors and heading error. Nonlinear models of the engine and the skid-steering vehicle/ground interaction were developed for testing the integrated system in simulation. These test lead to several key design improvements which assisted final implementation on the vehicle.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 August 1998
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 3366, Robotic and Semi-Robotic Ground Vehicle Technology, (12 August 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.317537
Show Author Affiliations
John S. Jacob, Utah State Univ. (United States)
Robert W. Gunderson, Utah State Univ. (United States)
R. Rees Fullmer, Utah State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3366:
Robotic and Semi-Robotic Ground Vehicle Technology
Grant R. Gerhart; Ben A. Abbott, Editor(s)

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