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     Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) have advantages over people in a number of different applications, ranging from sentry duty, scouting hazardous areas, convoying goods and supplies over long distances, and exploring caves and tunnels.  Despite recent advances in electronics, vision, artificial intelligence, and control technologies, fully autonomous UGVs are still far from being a reality. Currently, most UGVs are fielded using tele-operation with a human in the control loop.  Using tele-operations, a user controls the UGV from the relative safety and comfort of a control station and sends commands to the UGV remotely.  It is difficult for the user to issue higher level commands such as patrol this corridor or move to this position while avoiding obstacles.  As computer vision algorithms are implemented in hardware, the UGV can easily become partially autonomous.  As Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) become larger and more powerful, vision algorithms can run at frame rate.  With the rapid development of CMOS imagers for consumer electronics, frame rate can reach as high as 200 frames per second with a small size of the region of interest.  This increase in the speed of vision algorithm processing allows the UGVs to become more autonomous, as they are able to recognize and avoid obstacles in their path, track targets, or move to a recognized area.  The user is able to focus on giving broad supervisory commands and goals to the UGVs, allowing the user to control multiple UGVs at once while still maintaining the convenience of working from a central base station.  In this research, we will describe a novel control system for the control of semi-autonomous UGVs.  This control system combines a user interface similar to a simple tele-operation station along with a control package, including the FPGA and multiple cameras.  The control package interfaces with the UGV and provides the necessary control to guide the UGV.

 Graduate Students:

 Jonathan Anderson, Beau Tippetts, and Zhaoyi Wei

Publications:
  1. B.J. Tippetts, D.J. Lee, and J.K Archibald, “An On-Board Vision Sensor System for Small Unmanned Vehicle Applications,” Machine Vision and Applications Journal, vol. 23/3, P.405-413, May, 2012.

  2. J.D. Anderson, D.J. Lee, R.B Schoenberger, and B.J. Tippetts, “Using Real-time Vision to Control a Convoy of Semi-Autonomous Unmanned Vehicle”, AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America, online proceedings, Orlando, Florida, August 29-31, 2006.

  3. J.D. Anderson, D.J. Lee, Z. Wei, and J.K. Archibald, “Semi-Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicle Control System”, SPIE International Symposium on Defense and Security, Unmanned Systems Technology VIII, vol. 6230-66, 62301M, Orlando, Florida, USA, April 17-21, 2006.

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