Campus: Northridge -- October 10, 2007

CSUN Students Create an Intelligent Ground Vehicle

It wasnít long ago that self-operating robots were ideas left to the future. For student engineers at Cal State Northridge, autonomous robots have become ideas of the past.

Under the direction of mechanical engineering professor C.T. Lin, a class of 16 engineering students have created an autonomous robot that will compete in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) come June 2008.

"This class is a year long project in which students are required to deliver a design product," said Lin. "My group is focused on the unmanned robotic vehicle, also known as LinBot."

Senior mechanical, electrical and computer engineers at CSUN are required to participate in a senior design class, a multi-disciplinary project allowing them to put what they have learned in the classroom into action.

"Students go from concept to actual design by the end of the first semester," said Lin. "Second semester they turn design into construction of the vehicle."

Students work to prepare the vehicle for the IGVC. The purpose of the competition is to design and assemble a fully autonomous unmanned ground robotic vehicle that can negotiate an obstacle course and perform assigned tasks

Included in the competition are three major challenges: autonomous, navigation, and design.

The autonomous challenge involves a set course with obstacles that the vehicle must overcome. The navigation challenge entails location points that students input into the vehicleís system for it to avoid, and the design challenge includes a panel of judges that look for superior innovations, both hardware and software, that are implemented within the vehicle.

Traditionally, 40 schools from around the world test their innovation skills in the competition. This will be CSUNís third year competing in the Michigan-based competition. Last year, CSUN placed seventh overall. The team hopes to place within the top three at the IGVC 2008 by adding more intelligent algorithms to the robot, said Lin.

No matter what place they receive, said Lin, "students gain an entrepreneurial experience through team organization, leadership, fundraising, planning, accountability and exposure to the cutting-edge autonomous technology."

For more information regarding LinBot and the IGVC, visit their Web site

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