At the 20th annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, held June 8-11 on Oakland University’s campus, the Oakland Robotics Association won first place in the design category and third in the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems competition, which looks at the ability of the robot to follow a standardized set of commands. The team earned $5,000 in prize money.
The contest drew teams from 45 universities around the world, including teams from as far away as India, Jordan, Montreal and Tokyo.
Oakland’s group, consisting of 10 graduate and undergraduate students, estimates it put in 1, 200 man-hours modifying their entry, “Botzilla,”in preparation for this year’s competition.
The main challenge of the competition is to navigate an obstacle course to reach waypoints using a combination of GPS, a camera and computer code written by the team.
The design competition, in which the Oakland Robotics Association took first place earning $3000, involved a written report, oral presentation during the competition and inspection by the judges.
Association President and doctoral candidate in systems engineering Micho Radovnikovich describes several features he felt set Botzilla apart from the competition.
“The biggest advantage we had over the other teams was that we didn’t buy any off-the-shelf systems for it,” he said. “This means that we designed and built the entire frame from scratch and had the fiberglass cover custom made.”
Radovnikovich also said the robot was built to handle a variety of environmental conditions.
“The design is rugged, can handle many different terrains and is very rain resistant,” he said.
The JAUS portion of the competition involved giving control of the robot to a judge who tests the robot’s compatibility with a standardized interface by testing its ability to follow commands and navigate to waypoints. The team’s third place finish garnered $2,000.
Radovnikovich outlined the real world implications of the JAUS competition.
“JAUS is becoming very widely used in military robots, and will probably be adapted to the autonomous car application in the near future,” he said.
The competition offers students a chance to take their work in the classroom and put it toward a practical application.
Lincoln Lorenz, vice president of the Oakland Robotics Association and doctoral candidate in electrical engineering described how the skills learned in class come together in this project.
“Assuming that one person could build and program a robot given the
constraints of the competition, it would be like taking the theory that was learned in every engineering class taken and assembling the solutions together into a cohesive unit,” he said. “Not only are the individual problems that we solve hard, but the integration of everything together is also very challenging.”