Windsor Team Invincible at Autonomous Racing Challenge 2008

Waterloo, ON - May 5, 2008 - Competing for the first time, Team Invincible from Electrical and Computer Engineering department, University of Windsor took the first place in the Autonomous Racing Challenge 2008 held in University of Waterloo this year. The competition that took place on Saturday (April 26), involves racing fully autonomous vehicles head-to-head on an outdoor track consisting of a drag race competition, a circuit competition and static judging.

The team comprised of the students from the Computer Vision and Sensing Systems (CVSS) Laboratory, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Siddhant Ahuja (Sid), and Thanh Nguyen) and a Belle River District high school student doing his volunteering at the CVSS lab (Michael Stolarchuk). As part of the course project (88-554: Automotive sensor's course with Dr. Jonathan Wu), the team lead by Siddhant Ahuja (Sid) worked night and day on this project. Undergraduate supporting members to the team (working on their capstone project for engineering) included: Saket Sood, Mohammad Bidabadi, and Rameez Syed. "Being part of this team was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity for me. The kind of learning I did, I could never have had sitting in a classroom. We had many struggles with different sensors, and we thought about giving up many times. Then we came up with the idea of the single sensor (or camera), and it all worked out" said Michael Stolarchuk.

The project attracted funding from BASF ($1k) and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering ($500), and was supported by the Don Tersigni (Electronic Technologist with the department). With a simple yet sophisticated design involving a single vision system and state-of-the-art algorithms, the robot was able to autonomously navigate itself through the race track. "I was quite proud of all the hard work the team put into the robot and I was glad to see it pay off," commented Don Tersigni (Electronic Technologist and Departmental support).

Second year engineering students from the University of Windsor also put a team into the competition called "ISysDT". Members of the team who travelled to Waterloo were Dan MacDonald, Tony Choi, Rifat "Disha" Chowdhury and Gagandeep Dulay. Dan MacDonald said "the hardest part of the competition was the learning curve and the best part was team work, representing the school and learning new things".

The competition is one of the toughest robotic competitions held in Canada where the robot machines perform desired tasks in a complex environment without the need for human guidance or control. These robots are finding their way in applications such as space exploration, mining, search and rescue, remote sensing and automotive inspection. Some autonomous robots are even becoming common around the home for routine tasks such as vacuuming, mowing lawns, parking cars, and in future, driving cars.

Teams that participated in the competition include teams from University of Waterloo (3 entries), University of Western Ontario, University of British Columbia, McMaster University, University of Windsor (2 entries), RoboMontreal and a former DARPA Grand Challenge competitor.

The prize money of $500.00 was split amongst the team.

"We gained a valuable experience by participating and winning this challenge, and are looking forward to the one next year", said Siddhant Ahuja (Sid).

An invitation was extended to the robot racing team to demonstrate their winning design at the Intelligent Systems Collaborative: The AI/GI/CRV/IS 2008 Conference that will be held on University of Windsor campus, May 27-30, 2008!! Thank you Dr. Hoda ElMaraghy for forwarding the Daily News article to the Conference Coordinators.

The collaboration will extend the unique academic and industry perspective on innovation in Canada by bringing together five leading research and commercialization conferences (Artificial Intelligence 2008, Graphics Interface 2008, Computer and Robot Vision 2008, Intelligent Systems 2008, and SMARTLinkages2008). The Conference will bring together hundreds of industry leaders, government leaders, research leaders and Canada's most accomplished students to showcase Canada's ingenuity, innovation and leadership in intelligent systems and advanced information and communications technology.

Media Coverage

  • April 27, 2008-Press Release-Windsor Team Invincible wins the Autonomous Racing Challenge 2008
  • April 29, 2008-CHYR 96.7FM Radio news.
  • May 05, 2008-University of Windsor Daily News
  • May 09, 2008-Press Release-Team Invincible invited to demo the robot at Intelligent Systems Collaborative-AI/GI/CRV/IS 2008 Conference
  • May 22, 2008-Windsor Star-Robotic racing car to be featured at U of W
  • May ??, 2008-Lakeshore news
  • May 28, 2008-A-Channel: Surrounded by A-I. Students, industry experts design latest upgrades, gadgets and gizmos.
  • May 28, 2008-CBC News
  • May 28, 2008-CBC Radio News
  • May 29, 2008-AM-800 Radio News
  • May 29, 2008-Windsor tar-Winning robot learns the art of detection