Engineer students win grand prize at intelligent ground vehicle competition

Mary Pham

RED RAVEN. Mechanical engineering professor and team adviser to 12 mechanical engineering students and recent alumni, C.T. Lin, stands next to the team's Red Raven mobile robot, which won the grand prize earlier this year at the 19th Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition at Oakland University in Michigan. Andres Aguila / Daily Sundial

CSUN engineering students placed first, at the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) at Oakland University of Michigan on June 6.

The Red RAVEN (Robotic Autonomous Vehicle Engineered in Northridge), a self-made, small outdoor robot created as part of a senior project, took home the trophy and international recognition through publications like, The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems Internationals and the Symposium & Exhibitation.

“We were the only team competing from the West Coast and I thought that was freaking awesome,” said Nicholas Keyawa, project manager and graduate student studying control systems. “However, we thought we weren’t going to win, cause there was so many things going wrong the day of the event.”

The team experienced technical difficulties on the day of the event. Unexpected weather conditions tampered the ability of the robot’s parts to function correctly, Keyawa said.

The robot’s body was adjusted to allow the vehicle to navigate itself through the a series of courses, he added.

One course tested the robot’s ability to guide itself between cones in an outdoor obstacle range. Another challenge tested the robots’ coordination by using latitude and longitude points as a guide to navigate itself from one point to another.

The Red RAVEN boasted eyes made of sensory lasers and a camera mounted on the front of the vehicle, and an antenna received GPS signals from a satellite to a lap top mounted on the inside of the robot.

The 12-member team includes students from different backgrounds, such as automotive, mechanical design, mechatronics and robotics.

“We complimented one another very well,” said Keyawa. “If someone didn’t know how to do something, there was at least someone who did. It would make daunting tasks seem not so complicated.”

Students met two days a week to conduct research, presentations, and reports on how their vehicle is coming along, in the 1-2 semesters the student was enrolled in the senior course.

“The team also works by constant dialogue with one another,” said mechanical engineering professor C.T. Lin.

Regular meetings and team discussions, as well as comparing new designs to those in past competitions, allowed the team to identify the weaknesses and strengths of their robot.