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Inici > English version > GRAP research > GRAP works > Development of autonomous vehicles

Development of autonomous vehicles


In this research line, an autonomous platform is being developed in order to help tasks related to precision agriculture. The main function of this platform is to translate different kinds of sensors for monitoring the field.


The starting point of this vehicle is a caterpillar base without any electric control. In a first stage, a gearmotor along with inverters were used to control the motors. This stage has been carried out with the collaboration of the company Erbiotec and professors from the Polythechnic School (Universitat de Lleida). Several keypads have been implemented to control the movement of the platform. This stage allowed us to take control of the platform operation. The next step has been to control the motors and monitoring the state of the platform via PC using a LabVIEW application. Finally, a LabVIEW application has been developed to identify the angular speed of the motors, in order to obtain the model to close the loop and control the speed and position. This stage was carried out in collaboration with the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, specifically through a Master Thesis of Jan Pascual, student of the Master in Automation and Robotics.




Autonomous platform in its early stages




Interface control program (Pascual, 2013)



In the current operation, a generator supplies the energy required (three-phase AC current) by the motors. The speed control is performed by the inverters. The following figure shows the platform and the current block diagram (Gállego, 2014):






In another stage different drive alternatives for the platform have been analysed. This study has been the subject of the Master Thesis of Xavier Gállego, student of the Master in Industrial Engineering (Universitat de Lleida). The first option is to design a hybrid system, that is, to use batteries to the current platform but maintaining the generator. The second option is based on a fully electric traction system, taking advantage of AC motors currently installed. Another option is to use solar panels. The goal of these alternatives is to reduce the noise, vibrations and pollution during vehicle operation.




Forces acting on the platform (Gállego 2014)



Another working line is the development of control algorithms for the autonomous navigation. The goal is to convert the current platform into a robotics one. To do this, the platform takes on board a number of sensors to know its position and the surrounding objects. The following pictures show the current state of development. In these pictures, the platform carries a pole with a GPS antenna (top) and a LIDAR scanner (below).






-       Pascual, J. 2013. Implementació i posada en marxa d'un sistema de supervisió i control d'una plataforma automotriu per a tasques en agricultura de precisió. Tesi Final de Màster. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

-       Gállego, X. 2014. Estudi d’alternatives en el sistema de tracció elèctric d’una plataforma automotriu. Treball Final de Màster. Universitat de Lleida.










Last modified: 13/05/2015
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