Rochester Institute of Technology
Department of Computer Engineering
Senior Design Project, Fall 2007
Rodrigo A. Urra
Lance P. Riegert
Stephen C. Wilson


          The goal of this project is to make use of computer engineering knowledge with the intention to mimic, improve, and possibly introduce innovations in current security surveillance systems. There is however, a set of requirements to be met: the project must have analytical, software, hardware, and mechanical components. Such requirements are satisfied by designing and implementing a remotely controlled surveillance vehicle system.


          The vehicle is fitted with a microcontroller, which is responsible for receiving commands, controlling the vehicle motors, and streaming a live video feed. The vehicle, now acting as a wireless network device, is controlled and monitored by a Java-based application that has access to the Internet. Such application provides a user with an authentication system, live video feed, camera angle controls, and drive controls.

How It Works 

          An Alix.1c microcontroller is mounted on the vehicle, which runs Fluxbuntu Linux, is connected to the Internet via an 802.11g NIC, and captures video using a USB webcam. A background process runs on the Alix.1c, which "wakes up" every 30 seconds to check for incoming user connections. Using our custom UI, a user can connect to the vehicle's IP address using an Internet connection anywhere in the world. When a connection is detected, the vehicle loads the webcam and starts an application which continuously captures and streams webcam video to the UI. The user can then send steering, speed, and camera angle commands to the vehicle. All such commands are sent through the Alix.1c serial port to an HCS12 microcontroller, which consequently sends appropriate speed, steering, and rotation signals to the vehicle's motors. Power saving mechanisms are implemented to allow the vehicle to be used for over 10 hours, before having to recharge its batteries. As a finishing touch, a Logitech gamepad is interfaced to the custom UI for easier vehicle control.


The wireless surveillance vehicle.