Vehicle Built for IMDL (Intelligent Machines Design Laboratory) Class at Univ. of Fla.

Conception to Completion Must be Done in one Semester


  • Machine Must Run Completely Autonomously
  • Machine Must Exhibit the Use of 4 Different Types of Sensors
  • One ‘Special’ Sensor Must be Used
    • Either Designed by the Student or an Existing Sensor Must be Used in a Unique way

Machine Conception

  • Design Chosen was an Autonomous / Tele-remote Operated Vehicle
    • Vehicle Runs Autonomously Until User Activates Controller to Take Control of the Car
  • Car Was to Exhibit all Typical Vehicle Characteristics
    • Turn Signals
    • Headlights
    • Etc.





Initial design concept was intended to look similar to a current sports car, but the design was too curvy to build.
    Initial Design Concept (Designed in AutoCAD)
The final design was more angular to accommodate the build method that had to be used.  
    Chassis Panel Designs (Created in AutoCAD)
Using the AutoCAD templates, the body panels were cut from balsa wood sheets. A modified PCB board trace cutting tool was used like a mill to cut the designs into the wood.  

    Chassis Panel Cutout Sheet
The initial body assembly consisted of fitting the joints of each body piece together to ensure proper fits.  
    Initial Chassis Assembly
In the intermediate body assembly, the pieces were physically mounted together along with some minor sanding to improve joint cohesion.  
    Intermediate Chassis Assembly
The chassis was finalized by adding internal structural supports and solidifying panel joints with epoxy. The chassis was then sanded and painted for a cleaner look.  
    Final Chassis Assembly (with Electronics Added)






The external hardware was designed to make the car look as realistic as possible (on my minor budget).

With the exclusion of the switches and reset button, all the ports were made to look like components of an actual car.

The vehicle is complete with taillights, side markers, turn signals, and headlights.

The charging port is designed to look like a gas tank.

The DB-25 serial port jack is designed to look like a license plate.

Views of Vehicle External Hardware






The vehicle is run by a Motorolla 68HC11 microprocessor

Basic onboard electronics:

  • Serial Communications Daughter Board (Works in Conjunction with Microcontroller)
  • High-Amperage Electronic Speed Controller
  • Wireless Communications Module (Used for Tele-op Control)


The autonomous vehicle has a number of onboard sensors:

  • Collision Detection:
    • Front / Rear Bump Switches
  • Obstacle Detection:
    • Front / Rear Modulated IR Sensors
  • Photo Avoidance
    • Left / Right Cadmium-Sulfide Photocells
  • Ambient Lighting Detection
    • Top-Mounted Cadmium-Sulfide Photocell
  • Speed Control
    • Homemade Optical Encoder
  • Visual Reconnaissance
    • Onboard Wireless CCD Video Camera


    Multiple Views of Onboard Electronics

External controller can be used to take over autonomous control by flipping switch.

Controller allows for full directional control as well as a 'turbo' button which gives the vehicle a sudden and explosive burst of speed.

    External Vehicle Controller






The main control loop handles basic control features and decides which of the following behaviors will be active:

  • Wandering
  • Obstacle Avoidance
  • Backup and Turn
  • Photo Avoidance
  • Accelerate from Tailgater
  • Tele-op Control

    Main Control Schematic (Click to Enlarge)

The asthetics control loop handles non-critical systems that affect the appearance of the car. The asthetics control handles:

  • Left / Right Turn Signals
  • Headlights
  • Brakelights
  • Adjust Motor Speed
    Aesthetics Control Schematic (Click to Enlarge)






This video is from the TV20 news in Gainesville. This is not one of my more impressive moments, but it's the only video of the car running that I still have.

Click on Image to Play Video