Sunday, June 23rd, 2024

Engineered to Win

Millersville Robotics Team to compete in the 31st Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition

Since its origination in 2001, the Millersville Robotics Team has won seven championships and 50 1st-3rd place individual awards. This summer, the team is gearing up to participate in the 31st annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, which occurs from May 31 to June 3 at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. The team plans to compete with their latest design, A.Li.E.N. 5. 0 (Autonomous LiDAR-based Environment Navigator), a self-driving robot with object detection, GPS and lane line awareness.

The IGVC is a robotics contest where college teams develop self-driving ground vehicles that navigate obstacles without human intervention. In the 2023 competition, only two teams, the University of Oklahoma and Millersville University, completed the AutoNav Course. Millersville achieved notable success, securing 1st place qualification, 2nd place in performance, and 2nd place overall in the AutoNav Class. Additionally, Millersville claimed 3rd place in the Grand Award, which considers results from both the AutoNav and Self-Drive class competitions.

“We got second last year, so we made some new changes for this year’s IGVC competition in order to compete with other teams,” says Elizabeth Maschke, electrical lead and robotics team president and a manufacturing engineering technology major. “The reason we didn’t get first last year was because of speed, so our current ALiEN 5. 0 has been increased to the max speed that you can possibly have, legally within the IGVC competition parameters.”

“I think the IGVC is the hardest in terms of computer control and most sophisticated in terms of writing code,” says Dr. John R. Wright Jr., professor of Automation and Electronics Technologies. For your robot to qualify, it must go through a series of five checkpoints, and out of the 50 teams, only about 12 teams qualify every year.”

Students on the robotics team are currently spending 10 to 20 hours a week working on the Alien 5.0 project.

“The ALiEN 5.0 vehicle switches from lane line following to autonomous GPS navigation, crosses a zone without lane line boundaries called ‘the dead’ or ‘no man’s land,’ then resumes GPS guidance between two points,” says Benjamin Wright, manufacturing lead.  “It then returns to lane line following, obstacle detection and avoidance until reaching the start/finish line.”

The IGVC changes very minimally from year to year. The competition tweaks its rules, has different requirements and tends to get progressively harder.

“We’ve been fortunate to have many of the same students for the last couple of versions of Alien, so this is our big shot here,” says Wright. We need to win it this year.”

This will be Millersville’s fourth year competing in the IGVC. The Millersville robotics team has built 26 robots to date, and seven of those robots have been crowned as champions.

“This is our fifth time building something like this; being able to say we won first place will be a way of showing how all of our hours and dedication that we’ve poured into this robot pay off,” says Maschke.

To learn more about the IGVC, click here.

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