The Caltech Multi-Vehicle Wireless Testbed (MVWT)

A Testbed for Networked Control, Communications, and Computing

Richard M. Murray (PI)

Jason Hickey Eric Klavins Steven Low
California Institute of Technology
Updated: May 30, 2003

Project Overview

The Caltech Multi-Vehicle Wireless Testbed (MVWT) consists of 8 mobile vehicles with embedded computing and communications capability for use in testing new approaches for command and control across dynamic networks. The system allows testing of a variety of communications-related technologies, including distributed command and control algorithms, dynamically reconfigurable network topologies, source coding for real-time transmission of data in lossy environments, and multi-network communications. A unique feature of the testbed is the use of vehicles that have second order dynamics, requiring real-time feedback algorithms to stabilize the system while performing cooperative tasks.

The MVWT is part of the the Caltech Vehicles Laboratory and consists of individual vehicles with PC-based computation and controls, and multiple communications devices (802.11 wireless ethernet, and Bluetooth). The vehicles are freely moving, wheeled platforms propelled by high performance ducted fans. The laboratory contains access points for the 802.11, overhead visual sensing (to allow emulation of GPS signal processing), a centralized computer for emulating certain distributed computations, and network gateways to control and manipulate communications traffic.


Here are some pictures of the various vehicles we have built for use in the testbed. Click on the images to get more information on the various vehicles.

Beth I (prototype), Jun 2003
Kelly II, May 2002
Wilson II, Feb 2001
Wilson I (prototype), Dec 2000.


Here are some movies of the flight tests on the testbed. Click on the images to bring up the move (AVI format, ~20M each, w/ sound).

Trajectory tracking, May 2002
Follow the leader, May 2002
Manual Control, May 2002


Papers about the testbed:

Papers using the testbed:


The following students and postdocs have contributed to the MVWT since its inception in October 2000: