Fully autonomous vehicles will soon be at the front lines, both on the battle field and search-and-rescue missions. These vehicles are smaller, faster, and more manuverable than their human driven counterparts. Most importantly, autonamous vehicles will remove humans from dangerous areas and minimise casualties. The purpose of this project was to design and build a scaled proof of concept for an antonomous battlefield tank.
The tank uses infrared sensors to locate a target in the vicinity of the vehicle. It then approaches the target using a color tracking algorithm and a digital video camera. Once the target is within range, the turret is aimed and a projectile is fired.
An eBox 2300 low power embedded computer running Windows Embedded CE acts as the brain of the tank. It reads all of the sensor data and operates the motors via a Phidgets 8/8/8 board with an LCD text display. There are 5 IR motion sensors, an ultrasonic range finder, and a USB webcamera mounted on the tank. A NiCad battery wth a custom voltage regulator powers the eBox and a second internal battery powers the tank motors.
Test results show that the tank is capable of acquiring a marked target, tracking it, and then firing a projectile at a range of aproximately 1.5 meters without any operater interaction.