Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Stuart Wilkinson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan Gallant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rasim Guldiken, Ph.D.


Ecology, Robot, Sand, Survey, Tank


The gopher tortoise is a land tortoise living in the southeastern United States. It is a species in decline and is listed as threatened or endangered in six different states. The gopher (as commonly referred) digs burrows that it uses for many reasons and spends most of its time underground. Problems occur when trying to estimate a population because a gopher tortoise digs more than one burrow. This thesis demonstrates an innovative way to survey and investigate a gopher tortoise burrow hole by using a multi-tracked remotely operated vehicle. The vehicle carried two cameras (fore and aft) and was equipped with a microphone and LED illumination. It has tracks on four sides to increase its propulsion ratio. Its performance was evaluated in a sand pit where parameters such as incline could be controlled, and in an actual tortoise burrow. This research was done in conjunction with the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department.