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MVWTfest January 2007

The Caltech Multi-Vehicle Wireless Testbed (MVWT) is a testbed for networked control, computing and communications systems. It consists of up to 12 mobile vehicles with embedded computing and communications capability for use in testing new approaches for command and control across dynamic networks. The system allows testing of a variety of communications-related technologies, including distributed command and control algorithms, dynamically reconfigurable network topologies, source coding for real-time transmission of data in lossy environments, and multi-network communications. A unique feature of the testbed is the use of vehicles that have second order dynamics, requiring real-time feedback algorithms to stabilize the system while performing cooperative tasks.

The MVWT is part of the the Caltech Vehicles Laboratory and consists of individual vehicles with PC-based computation and controls, and multiple communications devices (802.11 wireless ethernet, and Bluetooth). Several different types of vehicles have been developed, including wheeled mobile robots, a thrust vectored vehicle on castors and a hovercraft. The laboratory contains access points for the 802.11, overhead visual sensing (to allow emulation of GPS signal processing), a centralized computer for emulating certain distributed computations, and network gateways to control and manipulate communications traffic.




We have written several papers that describ the MVWT and provide additional information on how it is configured.

MVWT I (Kelly robots):

  • A Platform for Cooperative and Coordinated Control of Multiple Vehicles: The Caltech Multi-Vehicle Wireless Testbed, Timothy Chung, Lars Cremean, William B. Dunbar, Zhipu Jin, Eric Klavins, David Moore, Abhishek Tiwari, Dave van Gogh, Stephen Waydo.Conference on Cooperative Control and Optimization, 2002.
  • The Caltech Multi-Vehicle Wireless Testbed, Lars Cremean, William Dunbar, David van Gogh, Jason Hickey, Eric Klavins, Jason Meltzer, Richard M. Murray. Conference on Decision and Control (CDC), 2002.

MVWT II (Hovercraft):

In addition, several papers have been written using the MVWT to collect data and test out new approaches to communications, computing and control:

  • Position Tracking for a Nonlinear Underactuated Hovercraft: Controller Design and Experimental Results, Antonio Pedro Aguiar, Lars Cremean, Joao Pedro Hespanha. Conference on Decision and Control, 2003



Here are some pictures of the testbed and the different vehicles. Click on the thumbnails to get a larger version.

Vectored thrust vehicle (Kelly)
Hovercraft vehicle
Wheeled vehicle (Steelebot)
Schematic view of the testbed
Picture of the testbed with two vehicles
Formation control with three vehicles