Development of an ATV-Based Remote-Operated Sensor Platform
Sumner, Mark David
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Urban warfare is unfortunate reality of the modern world and that fact is unlikely to change in the near future. One significant danger to soldiers in an urban setting is posed by concealed snipers. The large amount of cover among densely packed buildings make snipers hard to detect by sight or sound. When a sniper fires at troops, it is imperative to positively locate the sniper as soon as possible to ensure the safety of soldiers in the field. One method of sniper detection is the use of distributed sensor nodes. These nodes may be stationary, mounted on a soldier or mounted on a vehicle. These nodes may accommodate many types of sensors, including microphones and cameras, both conventional and infrared. This project specifically deals with microphone arrays and conventional cameras mounted on a remote-operated vehicle. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate that mobile sensor platforms can be used alone or in groups to locate the source of gunshots as well as other sources of noise. The vehicle described is a recreational ATV. It has been outfitted with mechanical actuators and electronic control modules to allow the vehicle to be operated remotely. The selection and installation of these components is detailed. This includes the control of the ATVâ s steering, brakes, throttle and engine starter. The system also includes a failsafe circuit to ensure that the system will shut down if positive control is lost. An array of sensors and transducers was added to the vehicle to allow for useful data collection. This includes the aforementioned microphone array and camera. Other sensors mounted on the vehicle include a GPS antenna and an electronic compass for establishing the position and orientation of the vehicle and an accelerometer to sample engine vibration and allow for cancellation of engine noise. Once assembled, this vehicle was tested in laboratory and field environments to demonstrate its effectiveness as a mobile sensor platform. The tests showed that a microphone array could be used in combination with a camera to provide a continuous stream of images of a moving target. The test also demonstrated how a mobile acoustic node can relocate to triangulate the location of an acoustic source and thereby replicate a larger stationary network. Overall, these tests demonstrated that such a system is a feasible platform for urban combat use. Full implementation would require the fusion of several separate features, the addition of a few new features, such as semi-autonomous operation, and further field testing.
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