Scholarly Communications Project

Autonomous Vehicle Control using Image Processing


Nikolai Schlegel

Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Tech in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Science


Electrical Engineering


Dr. John S. Bay, Chair
Dr. Pushkin Kachroo, Member
Dr. Charles E. Nunnally, Member

January 27, 1997
Blacksburg, Virginia


This thesis describes the design of an inexpensive autonomous vehicle system using a small scaled model vehicle. The system is capable of operating in two different modes: telerobotic manual mode and automated driving mode.

In telerobotic manual mode, the model vehicle is controlled by a human driver at a stationary remote control station with full-scale steering wheel and gas pedal. The vehicle can either be an unmodified toy remote-control car or a vehicle equipped with wireless radio modem for communication and microcontroller for speed control. In both cases the vehicle also carries a video camera capable of transmitting video images back to the remote control station where they are displayed on a monitor.

In automated driving mode, the vehicle's lateral movement is controlled by a lateral control algorithm. The objective of this algorithm is to keep the vehicle in the center of a road. Position and orientation of the vehicle are determined by an image processing algorithm identifying a white middle marker on the road. Two different algorithm for image processing have been designed: one based on the pixel intensity profile and the other on vanishing points in the image plane. For the control algorithm itself, two designs are introduced as well: a simple classical P-control and a control scheme based on H-Infinity.

The design and testing of this autonomous vehicle system are performed in the Flexible Low-cost Automated Scaled Highway (FLASH) laboratory at Virginia Tech.

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The author grants to Virginia Tech or its agents the right to archive and display their thesis or dissertation in whole or in part in the University Libraries in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all proprietary rights, such as patent rights. The author also retains the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis or dissertation.
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