Using Acoustic Sensor Technologies to Create a More Terrain Capable Unmanned Ground Vehicle

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Unmanned Ground Vehicle’s (UGV) have to cope with the most complex range of dynamic and variable obstacles and therefore need to be highly intelligent in order to cope with navigating in such a cluttered environment. When traversing over different terrains (whether it is a UGV or a commercial manned vehicle) different drive styles and configuration settings need to be selected in order to travel successfully over each terrain type. These settings are usually selected by a human operator in manned systems on what they assume the ground conditions to be, but how can an autonomous UGV ‘sense’ these changes in terrain or ground conditions? This paper will investigate noncontact acoustic sensor technologies and how they can be used to detect different terrain types by listening to the interaction between the wheel and the terrain. The results can then be used to create a terrain classification list for the system so in future missions it can use the sensor technology to identify the terrain type it is trying to traverse, which creating a more autonomous and terrain capable vehicle. The technology would also benefit commercial driver assistive technologies.