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LTU is the college champion of self-driving cars--for the fifth straight year

Release Date: June 8, 2022

Members of LTU's Team ACTor with their awards and competition officials at the conclusion of the 29th Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition Monday, June 6, 2022
LTU photo / Matt Roush

SOUTHFIELD—The collegiate champion trophy for self-driving automotive technology resides at Lawrence Technological University.

Lawrence Tech’s Team ACTor—an acronym for Autonomous Campus Transport—won an amazing fifth straight championship at the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, staged each year since 1993 at Oakland University in Rochester.

LTU’s modified Polaris GEM electric two-seat city car successfully navigated a course full of obstacles set up in an OU parking lot to win the crown, beating out second-place Kettering University.

“This competition gets tougher every year, so to win it five years in a row is a real tribute to the AI, robotics, and computer science talent we have at Lawrence Tech,” said C.J. Chung, professor of computer science at LTU and one of the team’s faculty advisors.

LTU student team members are Giuseppe DeRose, an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering who is also studying for a master’s degree in computer science at LTU, Joseph Schulte, Mark Kocherovsky (graduated May 2022), Justin Dombecki, and Adilur Choudhury. Team co-advisors are Nick Paul, an LTU alumnus and LTU adjunct professor of computer science, and Mitchell Pleune, former ACTor team member and computer science graduate of LTU.

To watch a video of ACTor's winning run around the course, visit https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZWFkhTs12rVR3zeR9.

The IGVC was established in 1993 by the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center, formerly known as TARDEC, and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation. The original competition, now called the Auto-Nav (autonomous navigation) Challenge, has small vehicles about the size of a dishwasher navigate autonomously around a track, using a combination of sensors.

But in 2017, as autonomous car technology began to blossom, IGVC added a second-division, the Self-Drive Challenge, for actual road-worthy passenger vehicles. LTU won that competition in 2017—and has won it every year since. Thanks to Chung’s efforts, LTU now owns two Polaris GEM electric two-seat city cars that have been modified with self-driving sensors and used for research in developing self-drive algorithms.

And due to a rule change this year, in which scores in the newer Self-Drive Challenge and the original Auto-Nav Challenge were weighted equally, Lawrence Tech also won IGVC’s top overall award—the Lescoe Cup. In addition, LTU team co-won the Dr. William G. Agnew Design Competition Award with an Auto-Nav team from Hosei University of Tokyo. Japan.

A total of 26 universities from around the world competed this year, coming from as far as India and Japan. It’s the first time there were international competitors since 2019 due to the pandemic.

IGVC sponsors for 2022 included platinum sponsors RoboNation Inc., formerly known as the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation; Hyundai MOBIS, the parts and service division of the Korean automaker; and the National Defense Industrial Association Michigan Chapter: gold sponsors Robotic Research, a Maryland-based provider of autonomous vehicle technologies; Veoneer, a Sweden-based provider of automotive technology; MSU Federal Credit Union; I Am Robotics, a Pennsylvania-based automation technology provider; and FEV, the German vehicle powertrain developer; and silver sponsors Dataspeed Inc., a Rochester Hills-based autonomous vehicle engineering provider; General Dynamics Land Systems; and the National Advanced Mobility Consortium.

Thanks to the sponsors, the LTU team will receive a $5,000 prize.

The 30th annual IGVC is scheduled for June 2-5, 2023 at Oakland University. More about the IGVC at www.igvc.org.

Lawrence Tech has long been a leader in autonomous vehicle technology. This summer, eight college students from around the country are on LTU’s campus, working with Chung on developing algorithms for self-driving vehicles, thanks to a National Science Foundation grant to LTU. The students are scheduled to give a public presentation of their self-driving technologies in mid-July.

Lawrence Technological University is one of only 13 private, technological, comprehensive doctoral universities in the United States. Located in Southfield, Mich., LTU was founded in 1932, and offers more than 100 programs through its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest colleges. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include over 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


Competitors in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle competition await the results.
LTU photo / Matt Roush


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