Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Committee Chair

Powsiri Klinkhachorn

Committee Co-Chair

Thomas Evans

Committee Member

Roy Nutter


The focus of this research has been the design and fabrication of a rail sensor system (RSS) that employs an array of commercially available load cells to reconstruct contact forces by determining a centroid of force. The proposed RSS system can be divided into two coherent systems: a mechanical system and an electrical system. The mechanical system is composed of two load cells, two aluminum support structures, and a friction resistant shoulder screw. The electrical system consists of a commercially available USB interface board responsible for capturing and transmitting raw voltage values from each load cell to the data logging software. Computer simulations and ground based testing were conducted and compared to validate the proof of concept and a fuzzy logic control scheme was developed to simulate real-time angle and trajectory corrections based on the output of each load cell. Tests conducted with the Rail Sensor System (RSS) reinforce the concept of reconstructing contact forces using an array of strain gages and their calculated centroid of force. The raw voltage values reported by the load cells contain valuable information that can potentially provide teleoperators and autonomous algorithms the information necessary to determine nominal service vehicle approach angles.