Mechatronic Designs for a Computer Controlled All-Terrain Vehicle 961762
Novel mechatronic designs for the automation and control of an all-terrain vehicle for operation by a C-5/6 quadriplegic are described. As part of a project at the University of Missouri, a Kawasaki Mule 2010 all-terrain vehicle was purchased and fully automated and interfaced with a computer for control using novel automation designs. This computer controlled all-terrain vehicle (CCATV) is primarily intended to be used for recreational off-road locomotion. A ‘drive-by-wire’ computer control system has been designed, tested and installed on a utility vehicle and delivered to the sponsor. A very user-friendly and high-tech control panel was developed with 2 joysticks, 15 push buttons and 3 LCD displays for interfacing with the CCATV systems.
The subsystems that were added or automated include the computer subsystem, sensors, control panel, power subsystem, steering subsystem, throttle/brake subsystem, gear shifting subsystem parking brake subsystem the three vehicle settings high/low speed, differential lock/unlock and 2/4 wheel drive, interface subsystem and accessories. The major design issues included the selection of the vehicle features to be automated and their design, actuation strategies for the subsystems, control techniques computer selection, and power system selection. Issues in ergonomics ruggedness, reliability and safety were also of considerable significance in the design.
A unique feature of the automation design is the provision for manual mode of operation. That is each subsystem has been automated such that the automation design does not interfere with the original vehicle subsystems. An auto/manual toggle switch is provided so that whenever needed, an able-bodied person can drive the CCATV in its original off-the-factory mode. This feature considerably complicated the overall design since reliability could not be compromised. The mechatronic designs reported have potential applications to several areas in addition to that for the disabled operator reported here.