Students and faculty conduct autonomous vehicle testing at Road America in preparation for April AutoDrive Challenge.
Over Michigan Tech’s spring break, in typical Husky fashion, the Michigan Technological University Robotics Systems Enterprise (RSE) AutoDrive Challenge Team will hit the road and the track. With their autonomous vehicle in tow, the team, called Prometheus Borealis after the Greek deity responsible for bringing technology to man and the greek deity representing the north wind, will head to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, to run tests on their autonomous vehicle.
Last year the team became one of eight universities selected to attend the inaugural SAE International AutoDrive scheduled for April 2018.
The AutoDrive challenge is a collegiate design competition sponsored by SAE International and GM. Teams must convert a Chevrolet Bolt EV into an SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle. In the first year, the team’s autonomous vehicles must:
- Stop at course markings while staying in lane
- Follow a curved road while staying within lane markings
- Traverse a multi-lane road containing cones and other obstacles
Prometheus Borealis is comprised of some 40 students and three faculty advisors--Jeremy Bos of electrical and computer engineering, Darrell Robinette of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics, and Timothy Havens, computer science. Bos, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will accompany students to Road America. Bos’ expertise in autonomous vehicles and vehicular networks, as well as industrial automation and controls makes him a perfect mentor for the students as they outfit their Chevy Bolt.
"My own contribution to this effort is called ‘Autonomy at the End of the Earth.’ My research focuses on the operation of autonomous vehicles in hazardous weather. Specifically, the ice and snow we encounter on a daily basis between November and April."
Established in 1955, Road America is a 640-acre park-like venue located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay. Road America is part of one of 10 federally designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds. Over the course of several days, the team will test drive their vehicle on Road America’s www.roadamerica.com four-mile, 14-turn road circuit. Specifically, their testing will focus on:
- Ride quality: The vehicle must stay within acceleration/jerk limits
- Time: How long the vehicle takes to completion any/all dynamic challenges
- The car’s speed: For year one, the car must go 25 mph
- Vehicle Operation, which only trained safety drivers can perform
- Effectiveness of the E-stop (emergency stop switch): Upon activation or press, press must be logged to include elements like the car’s rate of deceleration, logs will be inspected by conference organizers
While the testing will make for long and tiring days, the team anticipates the process will go well. After all, Prometheus Borealis has been hard at work on their vehicle all year, all while documenting their process along the way. Keep up with the team’s progress and see the results of their testing by visiting their Facebook page.
Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.