Autonomous Ground Systems (AGS)

Path To Success: An Analysis of 2016 Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) Autonomous Vehicle Design and Implementation

by Andrew Kosinski; Jerry Lane; KaC Cheok; Bernie Theisen


The IGVC is a college level autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) competition that encompasses a wide variety of engineering professions – mechanical, electrical, computer engineering and computer science. It requires engineering students from these varied professions to collaborate in order to develop a truly integrated engineering product, a fully autonomous UGV. Drilling down further, students must overcome a large variety of engineering technical challenges in control theory, power requirements/distribution (battery selection, etc.), cognition, machine vision (visual/stereo cameras, LIDAR, etc.), vehicle electronics, mobile platform fundamentals, vehicle electronics, sensors, systems integration, vehicle steering, fault tolerance/redundancy, noise filtering, PCB design/analysis/selection, vehicle engineering analysis, design, fabrication, field testing, lane-following, avoiding obstacles, operation without human intervention, detection and navigation of various obstacles (slopes, potholes, flags (detection and right/left travel logic), switchbacks, center islands), vehicle simulation/virtual evaluation, natural environments (grass, mud, rain, sun), Global Positioning System/waypoint navigation, safety design, etc. As can be seen, it is an excellent college level test to develop college level engineers and prepare them for their future engineering jobs. There are three sub-competitions within IGVC 2016, the Design Competition, Auto-Nav Challenge and Interoperability Profile (IOP) Challenge. The Design Competition challenges students to document their vehicle development by creating a design report, followed by an in-person presentation to the design judges during the actual IGVC 2016 event, including a vehicle examination by the judges. The Auto-Nav Challenge is the main challenge, which consists of two outdoor obstacle courses (Advanced and Basic course), requiring the UGVs to perform full autonomous operation/navigation throughout. The IOP Challenge encourages students to make their vehicles more interoperable, by requiring development of a Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS) compliant UGV, which is the architecture current military robots are being designed to. Programs such as the Robotic Operating System (ROS) are used by teams for designing/implementing software code, allowing for easier integration of new sensors and to help ensure commonality among the UGVs.