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The Holden Elementary School Autonomous Vehicle (Hesav)

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ET Capstone Projects

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1143.1 - 8.1143.6



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Paper Authors

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Charles Aldrich

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Michael Webber

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Scott Dunning

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3447

The Holden Elementary School Autonomous Vehicle (HESAV) By

Scott C. Dunning, Ph.D., Charles Aldrich and Michael Webber University of Maine


One challenge that must be met for a successful capstone design course is to select a project that excites a student team while solving a real world problem. This paper will discuss the results of a senior design project that met both of those criteria. The project objective was to design and build a fully autonomous vehicle for use by physically challenged children at the Holden Elementary School. This paper will discuss the project scope; vehicle specifications, operational constraints and required safety features needed to complete the project.

Project Objective

The primary objective of the project was to build a fully autonomous vehicle that could be used by the physically challenged children at the Holden Elementary School. The school has a physical and occupational therapy department that works with children that have moderate to severe physical challenges. One of the goals of their therapy is to encourage the students to optimize their limited capabilities to affect their local environment. One approach is to provide a reward structure. If a student makes contact with an input device, music may play or lights may turn on. The HESAV would be used to promote any kind of body movement by rewarding children with a short ride along a designated path.

Project Design

In September of 2003, Dr. Lynn Gitlow of Husson College contacted Dr. Dunning of the University of Maine College of Engineering to request design assistance. Dr. Gitlow’s area of expertise is occupational therapy. She works closely with area K-12 schools supervising therapy for children. At Holden Elementary School, she was working with faculty treating several severely disabled children. These children have minimal limb control. As part of their therapy, the children are encouraged to make use of their abilities to interact with their environment. Thus, they are led to contact large sensors and receive an award based upon their input. On a daily basis, the children are secured to a small cart that is used to wheel them around the room. This is a practical and fun activity. Dr. Gitlow wanted to know if a student design team could develop a motorized version of the cart that could respond to a single input from the child by providing a “free” ride around the room. The design solution for this problem was called the HESAV. It is pictured in Figure 1.

“Proceeding of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Aldrich, C., & Webber, M., & Dunning, S. (2003, June), The Holden Elementary School Autonomous Vehicle (Hesav) Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12613

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