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Miniature Autonomous Robotic Vehicle (MARV)
One of the developments at Sandia National Laboratories directed towards mechanical system miniaturization is the Miniature Autonomous Robotic Vehicle (MARV). MARV is the first vehicle of its kind built at Sandia and is one of the world's smallest autonomous vehicles, meaning that it contains all necessary power, sensors, computers, and controls on board. MARV is one cubic inch in size and is made primarily from commercial parts using ordinary machining techniques.
MARV employs two on-board sensors developed at Sandia to locate and track buried wires containing radio frequency signals. By measuring the relative strength of the signal at the two side-by-side sensors, MARV's on-board computer makes decisions and directs the two drive motors to steer towards the signal. Using these sensors and making a series of control decisions, MARV can sense a buried wire, home in on it, and follow the wire. MARV can easily carry other types of sensors as well.
Although MARV is built of commercial parts (except for the Sandia-designed sensor) and has limited maneuverability, it is a starting point in the development of miniature autonomous vehicles. In this capacity MARV has served as a testbed for evaluating critical subsystems of future miniature autonomous vehicles. This has led in part to the development and production of autonomous vehicles with greatly enhanced mobility, more intelligence, on board navigation and communication, the ability to act cooperatively and smaller size. This ongoing work at Sandia involves many of Sandia's areas of technical expertise and is directed towards the development of swarms of miniature autonomous vehicles capable of performing tasks that are difficult or impossible to do today such as locating and disabling land mines, detecting chemical and biological weapons, and verifying treaties.
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