The Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition is held every year for robotics teams to design and build autonomous – wait for it – ground vehicles, capable of completing a variety of challenges. Each summer some of the best university teams around the globe flock to participate, so we hit the open road and made our way to Rochester, Michigan this year to check it out, say hi, and see what all the buzz was about (we also created a little buzz ourselves as Husky …escaped!) Turns out, some pretty cool stuff is going on!
As stated in the official “IGVC Rules Guide”, the objective of the competition is: “A fully autonomous unmanned ground robotic vehicle must navigate around an outdoor obstacle course under a prescribed time while maintaining a minimum of speed of one mph over a section and a max speed limit of ten mph, remaining within the lane, negotiating flags and avoiding the obstacles on the course.”
So, it’s an obstacle course for robots …uh cool!
Team members across the board spawned super powers in electrical engineering, computer science and mechanical engineering, or what we like to call, Mechatronics (PS: we’re hiring in a lot of these areas!)
Sticking out from the crowd
Aside from the cool factor that robots were everywhere, it was great to see ambitious and excited university students out and bout for the 3 day event – especially those who had travelled internationally to compete!
We have to give a shout-out to University of Waterloo for developing their ‘Wat-bot’. It might’ve been one of the coolest robots at the event – it included a four wheeled omni-directional drive system to easily and quickly maneuver around obstacles.
Another shout-out goes to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for having one of the only water-proof robots at the competition. There weren’t any water-related activities in the obstacle course, but it sure came in handy when Mother Nature decided to rain on the parade the final day of the competition.
We were also happy to see a number of teams applying the open-source Robot Operating System to their bots. Our in-house ROS expert, Ilia, came along and was able to help some of the teams with Robot_Pose_EKF – coincidentally, it’s the module that Clearpath helped contribute to the open source community.
All work and no play?
No way! As with any robotics competitions, there’s always a little downtime, and that’s where we see the real innovation come alive! For instnace, we learned that Husky isn’t just used for competitions or aerospace robot interaction or detecting greenhouse gases in dumps, oh no! Husky was on the loose and – as we discovered – it can now be used to deliver cold beverages to hard working engineers in the field… Of course, Husky wasn’t in the competition, but we’re glad it was thinking of keeping those engineers hydrated!
As we explored more of the competition grounds, it seemed that Husky rubbed off on Grizzly over the four days of fun; the two got into some pretty hard-core stunts (we’re sure our engineers had nothing to do with this…). Mission Impossible for robots?