Title page for ETD etd-05082008-110806

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Currier, Patrick N.
Author's Email Address pcurrier@vt.edu
URN etd-05082008-110806
Title Development of an Automotive Ground Vehicle Platform for Autonomous Urban Operations
Degree Master of Science
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Reinholtz, Charles F. Committee Co-Chair
Wicks, Alfred L. Committee Co-Chair
Hong, Dennis W. Committee Member
  • Urban Challenge
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Ford Escape
Date of Defense 2008-04-28
Availability unrestricted
Autonomous ground vehicle operations, such as those found in the 2007 DARPA Urban

Challenge, require a reliable and capable vehicle platform. To meet this requirement,

an autonomous ground vehicle platform based on a 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid was developed

for operations in urban environments. The vehicle conversion, dubbed Odin,

contains a drive-by-wire system that is highly integrated with the OEM systems, providing

throttle, steering, shifting, and braking actuation. The vehicle also includes a

controller that provides low-level longitudinal using a map-linearized PI controller and

lateral curvature control using a bicycle model. The control algorithms proved capable

of controlling the vehicle at a level acceptable for autonomous operations. Communications

are implemented using the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS) using

custom messages to enhance interoperability potential. The net result is a highly capable

autonomous vehicle platform that was validated when Odin successfully completed the

60 mile Urban Challenge.

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