Cable deployment system for unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) mobile microgrids

Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


An ad hoc autonomous mobile microgrid system requires electrical connections to be formed between physically separated resources. This work proposes the use of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) as the means to deploy the electrical cable that creates these connections. This operation requires careful control of the cabling at variable speeds to avoid entanglement with the deploying UGV or obstacles in complex outdoor environments. Searching for a product that could supply the needed control and flexibility revealed a lack of compact and low-cost options. Existing options are very heavy (>100 lbs) and do not supply precision in their deployment. There is no commercial off-the-shelf option available for small-scale cable deployment operations with size and weight constraints. To fulfill the application requirements and to combat this deficiency, a custom design and build of an “Adjustable Cable Management Mechanism” (ACMM) was required. This ACMM provides a low cost, compact platform for powered and controlled deployment and retraction of different-sized cable under moderate loads, utilizing Commercial Off-The-Shelf components (COTS). Employing this design has enabled a variety of tasks that require distribution of electrical or data cables to be accomplished for small-scale projects. The goal of this paper is to give detailed design specifications of the ACMM and instructions on how to recreate it and calibrate it to be useful for tethering robots in various applications such as steep terrain, internet connection through tight spaces, or electrical connection between nodes for complex microgrids.

Publication Title