Robotics teams from universities across the nation and around the world, including Japan, Canada and Australia, competed in the 23rd-annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) at Oakland University June 5-8, in Rochester, Mich. The competition featured robots designed and constructed by engineering students to perform tasks in four key events: the Auto-Nav Challenge (Advanced and Basic courses), Design Competition and Interoperability Profile (IOP) Joint Architecture Unmanned Systems (JAUS) Challenge.

For the 42 engineering/robotics teams that competed this year, the IGVC offered a unique student design experience that placed this competition at the cutting edge of engineering and robotics education. As a multidisciplinary, theory-based, hands-on, team-implemented, outcome-assessed and product-realization autonomy-enabled event, the student engineers and roboticists brought the very latest technologies that will, ultimately, impact industrial research and development (R&D) and technology integration in both the commercial products sector and government.

The IGVC event's objectives were to challenge engineering students to think creatively as teams about the evolving technologies vital to vehicle electronic controls, sensors, computer science, robotics and system integration throughout the design, fabrication and field testing of autonomous intelligent mobile robots.

The IGVC provided students from 42 U.S. and international teams an outstanding opportunity to apply the skills they learned in the classroom to a live autonomous event that challenged how they adapted their robots to external environmental challenges on-the-fly. The event, founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), focuses on using robotic technologies that are being sought in research engineering and commercial industry today.

Summarizing the importance of sensors and electronic controls demonstrated at the IGVC, U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) Ground Vehicle Robotics research scientist Jeremy Gray stated that "Sensors, and the interactive connectivity they provide the user, are a crucial component to providing the most intelligent vehicles capable of performing under diverse environmental conditions anywhere in the world. To get to where the Army needs to be, sensors must provide performance input that can be calculated, analyzed and lead to vehicle actuation in fewer than 60 milliseconds."

Supporting the IGVC, TARDEC engineers and scientists served as mentors, advocates and judges for the annual competition. TARDEC representatives spoke with most of the teams that participated, sharing information about unique engineering and research opportunities at TARDEC, other Michigan organizations and within Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories and engineering centers. The technologies demonstrated during the IGVC will most likely be snapped up by the private sector to contribute to the emerging and burgeoning $1 billion a year industry. In fact, industry analysts predict that robotics will become a $10 billion a year industry over the next decade.
Unquestionably, robotics are key to the United States and DoD's R&D initiatives that address future security and situational awareness challenges and opportunities. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, DoD deployed thousands of ground and aerial robots of varying sizes and capabilities to support warfighters in the field. Lessons learned from those robotic deployments and competitions like the IGVC are helping scientists, engineers and technicians at TARDEC and other research facilities adapt emerging technologies into new capabilities for U.S. and allied ground forces.

IGVC Competition Results

1st place - California State University, Northridge
2nd place - University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia)
3rd place (tied) - Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan
Ecole de Technologie Superieure (Montreal, Canada)

Advanced Auto-Nav Challenge

1. University of New South Wales
Distance: 1032ft
Time: 3:52

2. California State University-Northridge
Distance: 1032ft
Time: 10:00

3. University of Michigan-Dearborn
Distance: 756ft
Time: 6:46

4. United States Naval Academy
Distance: 440ft
Time: 8:55

5. Ecole de Technologie Superieure
Distance: 254ft
Time: 5:59

6. Oakland University
Distance: 244ft
Time: 1:47

7. Lawrence Technological University
Distance: 125ft
Time: 1:19

Basic Auto-Nav Challenge (Top 6)

1. University of New South Wales
Distance: 510ft
Time: 1:27

2. California State University-Northridge
Distance: 510ft
Time: 1:58

3. Oakland University
Distance: 510ft
Time: 2:34

4. University of Michigan-Dearborn
Distance: 510ft
Time: 3:26

5. United States Naval Academy
Distance: 510ft
Time: 3:33

6. Ecole de Technologie Superieure
Distance: 510ft
Time: 4:28

Design Competition (Top 6)

1. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
2. Oakland University
3. Ecole de Technologie Superieure
4. University of British Columbia
5. Bluefield State College
6. Hosei University

IOP JAUS Challenge (Top 6)

1. California State University-Northridge
2. Lawrence Technological University
3. Trinity College
4. University of New South Wales
5. University of British Columbia
6. Hosei University

Rookie of the Year Award
University of New South Wales