N.C. A&T Team Places Third in First Leg of SAE/GM Autonomous Car Challenge

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Aug. 24, 2018) – Members of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Autonomous Auto (A3) team recently completed the first year of the three-year SAE International and General Motors (GM) AutoDrive Challenge, walking away with an overall score landing them in top 10 standing. 

The N.C. A&T team demonstrated capable and mature technologies during this high-tech competition, which is the reflection of the capabilities of talented students and researchers at the university,” said Ali Karimoddini, Ph.D. assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, deputy director of the TECHLAV Center of Excellence in Autonomy and team leader in the AutoDrive competition. “The team looks forward for the second year of the competition to demonstrate further developments on autonomous cars.” 

The team placed third in the straight-line challenge, autonomously following a two-mile track in the shortest timeframe while appropriately following stop signs and general traffic obstacles. Held in Yuma, Arizona, the competition required teams to operate and successfully navigate their transformed autonomous cars through three main dynamic challenges: straight line, lateral and object detection and avoidance.

More than 30 undergraduate and graduate students are involved in the project with different backgrounds and disciplines in nine groups, including “Image Processing and Learning,” “Software Architecture and Functional Safety Analysis,” “Sensor Integration,” “CPU/FPGA,” “Control and Dynamics,” “Mechanical Design,” “Social Responsibility” and “Social Media and Outreach.” 

In addition to A&T, eight other institutions are participating in the challenge, including the University of Toronto, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Kettering University, University of Waterloo, Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University. 

“Being a part of this inspiring effort toward the development of self-driving cars and achieving such a great performance among top U.S. universities in this national competition is an exciting moment for N.C. A&T,” said Robin Coger, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering. “The College of Engineering will continue progressive efforts to be at the forefront of developing advance technologies for future transportations systems.”

The AutoDrive Challenge is a three-year initiative to develop and demonstrate a fully autonomous passenger vehicle. The technical goal of the challenge is to leverage the autonomy level of the car to navigate an urban driving course in an automated driving mode. Through this competition, GM provided the team with a Chevrolet Bolt EV as the vehicle platform. Strategic partners and suppliers such as Intel provided the team the vehicle parts and software.

The second leg of the competition is scheduled for May 2019. Mid-challenge targets will focus on enhanced autonomy levels of the self-driving cars by avoiding dynamic obstacles and safely passing through intersections, challenging road conditions and multiple lane changing.