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OU Engineering Students Take Top Honors at IGVC

POSTED 06/18/2013

Oakland University Engeineering Students Take Top Prize at IGVC Robotics CompetitionFor the first time in university history, the Oakland Robotics Association (ORA) took the top prize at the 21st annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC). The team placed first overall this week, placing above 53 collegiate teams from across the globe, and brought the coveted Lescoe Cup home to Oakland University. 

Additionally, ORA placed second in the Design Competition and the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS) Challenge, and third in the Autonomous Navigation Challenge. 

IGVC challenges teams to build and operate autonomous robotic vehicles on an outdoor course with defined lanes, GPS waypoints and obstacles. The four-day competition is held annually on Oakland’s campus.  

“At the School of Engineering and Computer Science, we are very proud and excited for our students and their adviser for winning first place at the 21st Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition,” said Louay Chamra, dean of the SECS. “This accomplishment reflects commitment and hard work on the part of our robotics team, and we celebrate this milestone with them and applaud them on their triumph.” 

KaC Cheok, engineering professor and ORA adviser, was proud of his team’s accomplishments.  

“The OU robotics team is a multi-disciplinary group of engineering students whose talents peak simultaneously in the fields of mechanical, electrical, computer, mechatronics, and systems control engineering,” he said. “They are motivated, confident, knowledgeable, critical, creative, tireless and ambitious. And they get it done!’” 

Micho Radovnikovich, ORA adviser and systems engineering doctoral student, said the team spent about 600 hours developing and building their autonomous robotic vehicle, Replicant at a cost of $14,000.  

“My favorite part of this year’s IGVC was seeing our robot do exactly what we wanted it to do,” Radovnikovich said. “This is the most maneuverable robot that ORA has ever had at IGVC.” 

Jerry Lane, co-founder, co-chair and chief judge of IGVC, said participating students are given a professional edge in the industry.  

“We’re finding that our graduates are starting companies, going into defense and going into the automotive industry,” said Lane, who is retired from TACOM/TARDEC. “IGVC takes students and turns them into scientists and engineers who can be put to work right away, without unnecessary training. They have acquired the relevant experience, design skills and architectural skills from our competitions.” 

Technologies utilized in the process are widely applicable and are quickly being commercialized in the development of vehicles that drive and park autonomously, brake automatically and execute lane detection. 

“The automotive industry is moving in a huge concerted and competitive direction in active driver’s assistance systems where cars and trucks help to mitigate accidents,” explained Dr. Cheok, who is also a co-chair and co-founder of IGVC. “We are already seeing the robotics technologies incorporated in automobiles today with collision warning and avoidance systems, automatic parking, and more. Continental, Magna, Valeo and Takata, are all sponsors of the IGVC.” 

Michael Truitt, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student, joined OU’s robotics team in 2010.  

“I’ve always had a passion for hands-on, imagination-driven design and enjoy engaging in the opportunity to build that design,” he said.  

“When I began taking classes at OU, I was always looking for a chance to apply those skills, outside of the theory-based courses. Taking classes like Design and Analysis of Electromechanical Systems and Microcomputer-based Control Systems give me a chance to expand on the skills I had been developing and furthered my desire to join the IGVC team.”