Lawrence Tech wins global autonomous vehicle competition
The Bigfoot 2 team from Lawrence Technological University won the Grand Award, called the Lescoe Cup, in the 24th annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, held this week on the campus of Oakland University.
This year, 36 college teams participated in the event, co-hosted by Oakland University, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Great Lakes, and the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren.
IGVC challenges college student teams to design autonomous vehicles in a variety of unmanned mobility competitions. The competition aims to advance and promote intelligent mobility for ground vehicles. The competition included a navigation challenge like an obstacle course for robots. LTU’s Bigfoot 2 used computer vision, LIDAR (laser-based radar), GPS, and an electronic compass to guide itself.
The top award is called the Lescoe Cup in memory of TARDEC lead robotics engineer Paul Lescoe, a co-founder of the IGVC collegiate event.
Technologies applied to the competition can be directly applied to the development of self-driving vehicles, as well as steps toward autonomy such as advanced driver assistance and active safety systems.
Other universities participating in the event included the United States Military Academy, Georgia Tech, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, California State University –Fullerton, and Louisiana State University. Universities from Canada, India, and Turkey also participated. Besides LTU and Oakland, other Michigan institutions participating were Michigan Technological University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
LTU Bigfoot2 team members are:
• Gordon Stein of Oak Park, a May graduate of Lawrence Tech with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science. Stein, team captain, has also participated in Lawrence Tech’s Robofest robotics competition since he was in middle school.
• Yuan Li, from China, a master’s degree student in computer science, who was a software developer for the team.
• Fan Wei, from China, a master’s degree student in computer science, who was also a software developer.
• Devson Butani, from India, who just completed his freshman year of studies in Mechanical Engineering. A participant in the World Robot Olympiad in India, Butani was in charge of mechanical parts for the team.
• Nirmit Changani, from India, who just completed his freshman year in robotics engineering. Also a WRO participant, Changani worked on mechanical parts for the team.
• Nithin Reddy, from India, who graduated in May with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, who also worked on mechanical parts.
Faculty advisors for the team were C.J. Chung of Troy, LTU professor of computer science and associate chair of the LTU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and founder of LTU’s global robotics competition, Robofest; and Jonathan Ruszala of Lyon Township, who works for General Motors and now serves as an LTU adjunct faculty member after earning a master’s degree in computer science from LTU.
Sponsors of the IGVC competition included Northrop Grumman, Hyundai Mobis, and the AUVSI Foundation, platinum sponsors; Magna, elite sponsor; ClearPath Robotics, Roush, the Michigan Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association, and Molex, gold sponsors; and Torc Robotics, sponsor.
Sponsors of LTU’s IGVC team included the LTU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Robofest, Denso, Realtime Technologies Inc., Clearpath, Sparton Corp., Omnistar, and the LTU Bookstore.
To view a video of Bigfoot2 in action, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYviBKA0Jmc&feature=youtu.be. More about the team, including photos, at https://www.facebook.com/LtuIgvcTeamHome/timeline.
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