MITRE Centaur Robot

The MITRE Centaur Robot is an autonomous, large unmanned ground vehicle (LUGV) developed by the MITRE Corporation. It is a converted Ontario Drive and Gear (ODG) DM950 Centaur turbo Diesel off-road, skid-steer utility vehicle with four tracks. A PowerPC embedded processor board controls all real time input, computation, and output control. 2 MITRE Centaur vehicles have been constructed.

thumb?The Centaur robot is used as a follower in many leader-follower experiments involving LUGVs. These experiments have many potential applications in the military (supply convoys) and in civilian emergency response crews (toxic chemical leak). In the experiments, a MITRE Meteor (a modified 2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac) leads two Centaur vehicles. It comes equipped with many sensors to guide its motion as it follows the leaders. There is a horizontal laser for obstacle avoidance; a vertical laser for terrain modeling; a pan-tilt camera for object detection, a global positioning system (GPS) for localization; and other sensors for speed to control.thumb?

The Centaur uses a variety of tracking techniques to keep track of the leader as the convoy progresses. In open terrain, the robot uses breadcrumb mode to navigate. The lead vehicle will send GPS Points (also known as “breadcrumbs”) to the following vehicles. When vehicles are closer together, robots use laser tracking mode, in which laser sensors allow the robot to adjust its own speed. In urban environments, GPS signals can often be lost and vision tracking mode is activated to avoid people and other obstacles. It is very similar to the aforementioned laser tracking mode, using calibrated range-based speed adjustments.

While most other components of the leader-follower experiments run Fedora Linux, the Centaur runs RTEMS on its PowerPC. GNAT/RTEMS was selected because it provided a consistent environment across the various target processors and boards. For the programming languages used, Ada was used to program the safety-critical and real-time software running over RTEMS. The rest of the system software was coded in Java, including navigation, maneuvering, user interaction, and visualization. The PowerPC used is a 400 Mhz Freescale MPC5200 PowerPC with 128 MB RAM and 16 MB flash. For communication with the other robots, the Centaur used the Firetide 802.11-based mesh network.



Last modified 4 years ago Last modified on Dec 3, 2012, 12:53:25 AM