Florida Tech Researchers Build Autonomous Golf Cart
By Tyler Richardson, Florida Tech // February 19, 2015
self-driving golf cart is multi-year project
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Last summer, Assistant Professor Mathew Jensen and his five-member research team bought a “very used golf cart,” tore it apart and have since been in the process of reassembling it so that solely motors and electronics control it.
The multi-year project plans to introduce and market a purpose-built autonomous golf cart platform.
The first step is, according to Jensen, to tear out everything.
“We’re converting it to a fully drive-by-wire system, such that, there are no mechanical linkages between the steering, gas or brake pedals,” Jensen said.
The cart, which is housed in Jensen’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Lab, is almost ready to be reassembled.
Jensen and the team hope to have it operable by a human driver by the end of the semester.
Jensen, whose background is in vehicle controls and dynamic systems, has always had an interest in autonomous vehicles technology.
However, full-scale autonomous car research is, according to Jensen, not really practical at the college level, although there are some programs out there. He decided to scale back the size of the research vehicle and the autonomous golf cart project began.
Although he originated the project, Jensen is primarily interested in it as a learning experience for his students.
“As faculty, my goal is more to use it as a learning experience for students,” Jensen said,
“There are some interesting problems there, many of which aren’t necessarily easy, but they’re good research topics that have seen a lot of interest from the students.”