The Unmanned Terrestrial Vehicle (UTV) project was a pilot attempt to use our skills in the field of Electronics coupled with some elementary knowledge of automation and robotics, both of which are upcoming fields with tremendous promise, to come up with a prototype of a robot vehicle which could be controlled remotely and could also be easily configured for certain specialised functions by retrofitting it with suitable circuitry.
Such a project would not only enhance our practical knowledge of the aforementioned fields, but would also provide us with a foundation for further research on commercial and military automation, something which has typically interested us greatly since we were kids.
Similar automated craft have been used in various applications ranging from space exploration to bomb detection to spying and many more. These are typically useful when the nature of the task is so hazardous that it is impractical to use humans for the same. A recent example is that of the Mars Pathfinder sent by NASA to explore Mars. The Lander vehicle is programmed to roam the surface of the planet Mars, collect soil and other samples, do an onboard chemical analysis of the same and send the reports back to Earth.
Such instruments, therefore, prove extremely convenient and beneficial from the scientific point of view. We wish to build a preliminary version of such a vehicle, which we shall later fine-tune to carry out some specialised functions for the sake of laboratory demonstration.
The electronic circuitry for this project has been largely designed by us, except for the infrared transmitter circuit, for which we used a previously tried and tested design. The mechanical parts were sourced from my LEGO® MindStorms™ Robotics Invention System 2.0 kit. The control program was developed in Turbo C++ and will execute on any MS-DOS or Windows-based PC.