Thursday, June 09, 2011
Written by Daniel Bosse '11
A team of senior engineering students represented York College this past weekend in an international robotics competition at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. The students took part in the 19th annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) as a part of their senior design capstone project. The senior design capstone project challenges engineers in their final semesters of the program to take a real-world problem and design and test a solution.
The competition involves a series of challenges that test the vehicles’ ability to navigate, communicate, and avoid obstacles without any human interaction. The IGVC is strongly supported by companies that develop unmanned vehicles for military, law enforcement, and space exploration programs. Some of these companies and associations include TARDEC, SAIC, NDIA, and AUVSI. This year, the IGVC featured 55 teams of college students from all over the United States as well as from countries such as Canada, India, Japan, and Jordan.
Teams are required to design a vehicle that they believe is capable of completing the challenges of the competition. An arrangement of cameras and sensors are strategically incorporated into the design to allow the robot to know where obstacles are located around it. Once the robot knows the location of obstacles, it must then plan a path around the obstacles to reach its goal. Another challenge requires robots to navigate to a series of GPS waypoints while avoiding obstacles.
York College’s robot, Sparta, had a very strong presence at the competition this year. An extensive design report, a pair of strong oral presentations, and an innovative project design allowed the robot to take 4th overall in the design competition. Sparta was also able to make it 106 feet into the course before getting turned around by obstacles. Sparta was one of the few robots that did not hit any obstacles or drive out of bounds during the entire competition.
Some of the judges had connections to different branches of the armed forces and were very impressed by the implementation of the vehicle’s tracked suspension system. Other highlights of the vehicle include: a camera system that could detect white spray painted lines on the ground and report their locations back to the robot, a mapping system that could remember the locations of obstacles even after they were no longer in the sensing field, and an algorithm that planned for the optimal path through an obstacle course.
Against a field of seasoned teams, York College enjoyed uncommon success in only its second year in the competition. Other teams, that had entered robots for many years, had the benefit of being able to iterate, and improve upon, old designs. Though this ability was limited for the 2011 team, they hope that their design and experiences can lead future teams to continued success at the annual competition.
For more information about the team, please check out the YCP Robotics Facebook page. For more information on the competition in general, check out the IGVC website at www.igvc.org.
2010-2011 IGVC Team:
Dan Bosse (Mechanical Engineering)
Nick Cappello (Mechanical Engineering)
Takeshi Ei (Mechanical Engineering)
Ben Edwards (Mechanical Engineering)
Ed Miller (Electrical Engineering)
Phil Barnett (Electrical Engineering)
Zach Zeiders (Electrical Engineering)
Steve Hinderlider (Computer Engineering)
Dave Griffin (Computer Engineering)
Andrew Donihe (Electrical Engineering)
Greg Link, Ph.D.
Kala Meah, Ph.D.
Wayne Blanding, Ph.D.