Design of a prototype autonomous amphibious WHEGS robot for surf-zone operations
Ward, Jason L.
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The Small Robot Initiative at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) has spent several years in development based on the Foster Miller lemmings platform. This platform, in conjunction with a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) control architecture, is capable of autonomous, land based waypoint navigation, self orientation, and rudimentary obstacle avoidance. It can receive waypoint information, manual control input, and transmit video and audio information back to a control station via 802.11 wireless communication. The introduction of the WHEGS design, developed at Case Western Reserve University, and a modified version of the COTS control system will provide a platform with greater speed, mobility and versatility. This thesis developed a prototype WHEGS vehicle and integrated the control system with improvements in the navigation routine through the addition of a dead reckoning sensor and calculation function. Although the mechanical design proved to be highly inefficient and unable to propel itself, the control system was successful, allowing integration with a more robust mechanical design from Case Western Reserve University. Follow on development and research will lighten the body through the use of carbon fiber and test the robots ability to maneuver effectively in the surf-zone.
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