The Hephaestus autonomous vehicle platform was created in 2004, with the intention of serving as a multi-year, multi-disciplinary design project for electrical and mechanical engineering seniors at University of Detroit Mercy. Hephaestus represents a very unique design, one which is able to travel in any direction, but only using two motors. An upper platform contains all control and sensory systems of the vehicle. The angle of this platform is fixed to the angle of the wheels, thus the vehicle is able to travel in any direction, but will always be facing forward.
As you can see in the picture above, the red platform is the one which rotates. Below that is a fixed mechanical platform. This platform provides rigid mounting for the motors and chains needed to make the vehicle omni-directional. It also supports the heavy drive batteries.
To make Hephaestus omni-directional, each motor is linked to each wheel using lengths of chain and sprockets, as is shown below.
Electronics onboard Hephaestus include two laptop computers, a firewire camera, a laser obstacle detection system, and a communications system. Both of the computers run sophisticated algorithms to detect obstacles and keep the vehicle on course.
To learn more about Hephaestus, please visit the Files section, and view our design reports.
All material within this website is Copyright 2005 Team Hephaestus, unless otherwise noted