The scope of this project was design and build of a new eight wheeled multi-mission Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) with an electric motor propulsion and LiFePO4 battery pack. The base of this vehicle started as a Centaur chassis delivered to specifications by Ontario Drive and Gear.
As a subcontractor to an overseas client, I was tasked to manage the project, design electrical systems, create BOM, conduct some key component procurement, lead the build, configure and test the system. The planning, design and procurement took a couple of months. In collaboration with client’s engineers and late hours we completed the support structures, cabling & wiring, mounted many components and had the two AC motors spinning 2 weeks after my arrival on location. The installation of traditionally outstanding software developed by Provectus Robotics Solutions went smoothly, as expected. After the motion control and electrical systems tested out, I departed for Canada and the client continued with the balace of work to turn the chassis filled with goodies into a driving, swimming UGV. They ended up developing several payload variants based on the same platform, two of which are featured here:
The UGV carries GPS, Sick LMS with 270 Degrees FOV for obstacle detection, driving and PTZ cameras, dedicated, low latency wireless communication radio, rugged industrial computer and plenty of I/O for controlling various payloads and other gadgets under the hood.
The various computers and software that are part of this system provide three modes of operation:
- Tele-operation from RCS computer: operator control using touch-screen computer from a remote location.
- Autonomous: full autonomous operation initiated through RCS. Navigation, path planning, obstacle detection and avoidance.
- Close range control: close operation via direct wire or wireless link via Toughbook computer.
The final product is an amphibious multi role UGV with an incredible payload capacity and power, fully capable of playing in the forest, desert or water.
The biggest challenge was the coordination and procurement of various materials around the globe, custom part fabrication, including sourcing of tools and parts locally.
There was nothing easy about this project, but as with my previous robotics adventures, I had a great time working on this cool system.
What can I say, I always welcome a good challenge...