Michigan's Autonomy team took first place at the 3rd International
Autonomous Surface Vehicle Competition conducted by the Association for
Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Office of Naval Research,
held June 10-13, 2010 in Virginia Beach, VA. There are actually 2 first
place awards, one for static judging (based on the technical paper, webpage,
and presentation) and the other for the actual race. Michigan took first in
The Autonomous Surface Vehicle Competition (ASVC) is a student robotics
competition in which teams race ASVs of their own design through an aquatic
obstacle course. This involves littoral area navigation, channel following
and autonomous docking. This is typically done with computer vision,
multi-sensor fusion techniques, proactive and reactive path planning, and
machine learning approaches using embedded systems within the vehicle.
Andrew Beck (computer engineer), David Devecsery (computer
engineer), David Juhlin (naval and marine engineer), Ryan Wolcott (computer
engineer and team electrical lead), Eric Rossetti (electrical engineer),
Kurt Bourbonnais (naval and marine engineer and team president)
Not pictured but also on the team from EECS: Alex Prog (electrical
engineer), Matthew Wener (computer engineer)
With electrical and computer engineers figuring heavily in this year's team,
they were able to come in ahead of University of Central Florida (two-time
defending champion), University of Rhode Island, Virginia Tech, and US Naval
Academy, all of which received prizes as well. 13 schools took part in the
The was the first year the team had sufficient numbers to accomplish their
goal. Ryan Wolcott, the team's electrical lead, stated, "Once we built up a
decent foundation of EECS students, everything started to fall into place.
We had the ability, unlike several other teams, to log practice run data and
reuse it to fully stress test our autonomous platform; we could go through
several different scenarios and software changes and see how the vehicle
would respond. With having so many tools to succeed, we just needed people
that could help out and contribute."
students combined to design and assemble the electronics box, wire the
entire vehicle, and develop software for our autonomous platform. For the
electronics box, we had to mount our electronics hardware and computers, and
safely wire both power and communication lines to all pieces of hardware.
EECS students also developed all of the software for the boat; we had to
write all of our low-level drivers that interface with a GPS, compass, IMU,
SICK LIDAR, and cameras. We had to pool all of these sensors together to
create a map of the environment that our route planner can use to make
high-level decisions based on mission requirements. Once our route planner
has established waypoints, a PID control system is used to successfully
navigate the vehicle towards its goal."
This is an unmanned vehicle, so no one is controlling the vehicle from
shore. It needs to navigate the cones, pick up a ring, and deliver it to a
volcano in Mordor (Lord of the Rings). Only Michigan made it even close to
the land of Mordor!
This year's boat is completely new, and weighed 110 lbs., the maximum
allowed before deductions are taken. There was a certain amount of drama in
the final run when Michigan's boat was tied up at a buoy, but it did finally
manage to free itself in time to continue the race.
The team put a significant effort this past in increasing student
involvement, and moving from a loose group of students working on the
vehicle to a tightly organized team with official status in the College of
The team was supported by faculty advisors
Dr. Ryan Eustice (EECS
and Naval and Marine Engineering, NAME) and
Dr. David Singer
We look forward to next year's contest!
Posted: June 23 2010 by
EECS/ECE Communications Coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-936-2965