The Autonomous Driving Challenge in its Second edition
After three days of intense competition between the best Spanish universities in robotics and artificial intelligence, AUTOPIA from the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) has been crowned winner of the second edition of the Autonomous Driving Challenge. The UMAGarage team from the University of Málaga led throughout most of the competition but ended up in second place. The surprise was a tie for third place between AMUVAG from the University of Valladolid and UrBots from the Rovira i Virgili University. The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and the University of Vigo also participated in this second edition. In total, six universities and 30 students devoted over six months of hard work to this challenge.
It began in February when universities from all over Spain were invited to participate in the challenge, which consisted of creating the necessary software architectures to make a 1:10 scaled car (equipped with specific hardware) that could move around an urban area, with features such as object detection and avoidance, correct reading of traffic lights, and performance of parking manoeuvres.
After the selection and approval phase, each university was invited to participate in a workshop with one multi-disciplinary team. It was May and the students had yet to train with Alberto Sanfeliu, the Scientific Director of the “Maria de Maeztu Unit of Excellence” of the Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics (IRI UPC-CSIC) and his team. At this event, students received their scaled car so they could practice before the competition.
The following months consisted of intense work on programming, while receiving remove assistance from the IRI team. To make sure the teams were prepared, the students had to send Deliverables showing their proficiency in tasks that would recreate the environment of their tests.
This preparation led to the grand finale, held during the Imperdible_03 event in late November, which was organized by the COTEC foundation in Madrid and brought together several events on innovation in cities. After a first day of tests and calibrations, a two-day competition was held to assess students’ skills. CARNET created a closed driving circuit based on an urban environment and inspired by the city of Madrid. The competing vehicles from each university had to pass the challenging tasks that were set, such as recognize the layout of the circuit, stay within lane markings, navigate around corners, straight lines and intersections, detect obstacles, and park. A jury made up of SEAT representatives, UPC experts in robotics, and a CARNET representative was responsible for choosing the best three challengers.
The event closed at the awards ceremony, with a heartening speech by CARNET Industrial Director Alexander Siebeneich, who congratulated the talented young students on their accomplishments. He also mentioned the evolution of the competitors between editions and the consolidation of Spain as a centre of innovation and mobility at international level.
If you are interested, you can watch a video about the event here: