Look, Ma, No Driver: The AutoDrive Challenge

AutoDrive Main
AutoDrive Main
Mobility technology is a strong research area at Michigan Tech and the AutoDrive Challenge brings together insight from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science.

Michigan Technological University is one of eight universities selected to participate in a new collegiate competition—AutoDrive Challenge—hosted by GM and SAE International.

Students competing in the challenge have been tasked with designing, building and testing a fully autonomous vehicle. They will start with a Chevy Bolt and outfit it with sensors, control systems and computer processors to successfully navigate an urban driving course in automated driving mode.

And they have three years to make it happen.

"It is an ambitious project, with an ambitious goal, and I couldn't be happier that we will be a part of it," says Dan Fuhrmann, the chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. 

"I have a lot of respect for these other institutions and I know the competition will be stiff," Fuhrmann says. "I welcome the opportunity to see how Michigan Tech stacks up."

The Michigan Tech team is led by Jeremy Bos, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, who worked closely with Darrell Robinette, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering who worked at GM for nine years. Michigan Tech’s Enterprise Program will be a key part of the project; Rick Berkey of the Pavlis Honors College, which oversees much of the Enterprise Program, also helped organize Michigan Tech’s AutoDrive team.

On the student side, the AutoDrive Challenge project will be spearheaded by the Robotic Systems Enterprise, and Bos will become their faculty adviser next year. The enterprise is hosted in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and relies on mechanical engineering and computer science collaboration.

"This is a great opportunity for these three units to show what can be accomplished when we break down the silos a little bit and work toward a common goal," Fuhrmann says. "I see a renaissance in the state driven by new mobility technologies, which leverages the considerable engineering talent that already exists here. Engineers who can cross disciplinary boundaries among mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science are needed to keep this movement vital."

Throughout the AutoDrive Challenge competition cycle, students and faculty will be invited to attend technology-specific workshops to help them in their concept refinement and overall autonomous technical understanding.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.