Published: April 5, 2017

MSU selected for GM-sponsored autonomous vehicle competition

Contact(s): Patricia Mroczek College of Engineering office: (517) 432-1303, Andy Henion Media Communications office: (517) 355-3294 cell: (517) 281-6949

Michigan State University will compete against seven other North American universities to create a fully autonomous vehicle in a new challenge announced Wednesday by General Motors and other sponsors.

GM will provide each team with a Chevrolet Bolt EV as the vehicle platform. The goal of the AutoDrive Challenge: Navigate the fully automated vehicle on an urban driving course by the third and final year of the competition.

For years, MSU faculty members and students have been involved in cutting-edge research that will someday make self-driving vehicles not just a reality, but commonplace.

The other schools in the competition announced Wednesday are Kettering, Michigan Tech, North Carolina A&T, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and the universities of Toronto and Waterloo.

Hayder Radha, director of MSU's Connected and Autonomous Networked Vehicles for Active Safety, or CANVAS, said students will have a select opportunity to conduct research in the area of autonomous driving.

“This competitive program represents an intriguing intersection of research and education in autonomous vehicle engineering," Radha said. "And this intersection of research and education is becoming quite essential for the emerging area of autonomous driving."

Radha said there is also an urgent need to train the engineers and scientists who will lead this new era in automotive engineering.

"One of our core missions here at MSU, and especially under the CANVAS initiative, is to address both the research and education aspects of autonomous vehicle engineering. The AutoDrive Challenge is an example of a compelling program that enables us to achieve this mission."

Ken Kelzer, GM vice president of Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems, said General Motors is excited to work closely with the eight universities over the next three years.

“The students and faculty at these schools bring deep knowledge and technical skills to the competition," Kelzer said. "We are proud to help offer these students the hands-on experience necessary for them to make an immediate impact on the automotive world when they graduate.”

Throughout the competition, students will focus on autonomous technologies and allow for modification and testing. They will work with real-world applications of sensing technologies, computing platforms, software design implementation and advanced computation methods such as computer vision, pattern recognition, machine learning, artificial intelligence, sensor fusion and autonomous vehicle controls.

Strategic partners and suppliers will aid the students in their technology development by providing vehicle parts and software. Throughout the competition cycle, students and faculty will be invited to attend technology-specific workshops to help them in their concept refinement and overall autonomous technical understanding.

Beginning in fall 2017, Year 1 will focus on concept selection for university teams by having them become familiar with sensing and computation software. This includes writing a concept design paper and completing simple missions for on-site evaluation. These simple missions can include straight roadway driving and object avoidance/detection. The Year 1 final competition will be at GM’s Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona.

In Year 2 the teams will refine their concept selections into solid system developments and will have more challenging dynamic events for testing on-site, including dynamic object detection and multiple lane changing.

Year 3 will culminate with final validation of design and concept refinement. They will navigate complex objectives of on-site testing, including higher speeds, turnabouts and moving object detection.

In addition to GM, the sponsors are SAE World Congress Experience and SAE International.

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