Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Wayne W. Weaver

Advisor 2

Jeremy P. Bos

Committee Member 1

Jung Yun Bae

Committee Member 2

Laura E. Brown

Committee Member 3

William J. Endres


Autonomous Mobile Microgrids provide electrical power to loads in environments where humans either can not, or would prefer not to, perform the task of positioning and connecting the power grid equipment. The contributions of this work compose an architecture for electrical power transmission by Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV). Purpose-specific UGV docking and cable deployment software algorithms, and hardware for electrical connection and cable management, has been deployed on Clearpath Husky robots. Software development leverages Robot Operating System (ROS) tools for navigation and rendezvous of the autonomous UGV robots, with task-specific visual feedback controllers for docking validated in Monte-Carlo outdoor trials with a 73% docking rate, and application to wireless power transmission demonstrated in an outdoor environment. An “Adjustable Cable Management Mechanism” (ACMM) was designed to meet low cost, compact-platform constraints for powered deployment and retraction by a UGV of electrical cable subject to disturbance, with feed rates up to 1 m/s. A probe-and-funnel AC/DC electrical connector system was de- veloped for deployment on UGVs, which does not substantially increase the cost or complexity of the UGV, while providing a repeatable and secure method of coupling electrical contacts subject to a docking miss-alignment of up to +/-2 cm laterally and +/-15 degrees axially. Cabled power transmission is accomplished by a feed-forward/feedback control method, which utilizes visual estimation of the cable state to deploy electrical cable without tension, in the obstacle-free track of the UGV as it transverses to connect power grid nodes. Cabling control response to step-input UGV chassis velocities in the forward, reverse, and zero-point-turn maneuvers are presented, as well as outdoor cable deployment. This power transmission capability is relevant to diverse domains including military Forward-Operating-Bases, disaster response, robotic persistent operation, underwater mining, or planetary exploration.