Eagles Bring Home Top Award at Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University won its first-ever Grand Award in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, held recently in Michigan, with an unmanned vehicle named RAIN (Robot for Advanced Intelligent Navigation). The student team invested about 1,000 hours this spring writing RAIN’s software, installing its sensors and designing its drive train.
“Winning first place overall for the first time in Embry-Riddle’s history shows what we can do as a team when we all work together and put in the effort,” said Andrew Strazds, team lead and senior Mechanical Engineering student.
This year’s Embry-Riddle team also won first place for design and third place for the AutoNav Challenge, in which vehicles autonomously traverse an outdoor obstacle course. The team brought home $4,500 in prize money, which will be used for further student competitions, and was invited to display RAIN at the upcoming Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Xponential Conference, in Atlanta, Georgia.
According to Charles Reinholtz, one of the team advisors and professor of Mechanical Engineering, RAIN uses sensors to avoid obstacles and navigate within solid or dashed lines. It is also able to navigate to GPS destinations. The vehicle packs an industrial grade Automotive Machine Vison camera, a Velodyne Puck 16-beam laser scanner (LIDAR) and a VectorNav Dual Antenna GNSS-Aided Inertial Navigation System, Reinholtz said.
The participating students interacted with industry sponsors at the competition, including representatives of the U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center, which provides research funding to Embry-Riddle.
“Our students make us look good,” said Reinholtz, adding that participating in events like these is “like a final exam on a national or international stage. Students learn a lot of the practical aspects of engineering, they are able to pull the things they learn in other classes together, and they gain confidence in their own education and ability.”
According to the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) website, the wide range of technologies involved in the competition can be used in an equally broad range of applications — from mine detection to automated taxi service.
Christine Walck, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, said students learn and practice skills ranging from working under pressure, to articulating a design, to leadership. Many make connections at the competition that help them secure internships or jobs.
“The experience at the competition is unique and irreplaceable,” said Walck.
Team member Ana Alvarez, a junior in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in robotics, said competing greatly expanded her understanding of robotics, which she hopes will help her to meet a growing demand for such technologies.
“Being a part of this program was the best training I’ve gotten so far for my career,” she said.
The student team also included Joseph Corry, Katie Lane, Zachary Moser and Gabriel Alkire.
Posted In: Engineering