Lawrence Tech IGVC team receives the RoboNation 2021 Self-Drive champions banner, $3,000 award

SOUTHFIELD—Lawrence Technological University’s Autonomous Campus Transport (ACTor) team, four-time defending champion in the Self-Drive category of the annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, received a 2021 RoboNation championship banner in a campus ceremony.

LTU also received a $3,000 check for winning the IGVC Self-Drive competition. RoboNation, the robotics education and workforce partner of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), was one of the major sponsors of IGVC 2021.

“Technologies for self-driving vehicles are at the forefront of the future of the auto industry,” LTU President Virinder Moudgil said in congratulating the team. Moudgil also presented each team member with a commemorative plaque honoring their achievement.

Jerry Lane, a leader of past and present military autonomous vehicle projects and co-founder of the IGVC in 1993, presented Moudgil the RoboNation banner and the check.

IGVC was established in 1993 by the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center, formerly known as TARDEC, host school Oakland University, and the AUVSI. RoboNation began operation in 2009 with support from AUVSI to provide hands-on educational experiences that offer students a way to solve global challenges.

Faculty advisors to the team are C.J. Chung, professor of computer science at LTU; Nick Paul, an LTU alumnus and adjunct professor of computer science; Joe DeRose, an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering who is studying for a master’s degree in computer science at LTU; and Mitchell Pleune, a computer science graduate of LTU. Team members are LTU computer science students Thomas Brefeld, Justin Dombecki, James Golding, and Joseph Schulte. Mark Kocherovsky, a new member of the team that will compete in 2022, also joined in the event.

“Using a real vehicle is important for developing robust self-drive algorithms, as simulation has a ‘reality gap’ and testing in the real world cultivates motivation.” Chung said.

LTU currently has two drive-by-wire electric vehicles to develop self-driving algorithms. Sponsors of the the LTU vehicles include Hyndai Mobis, Dataspeed Inc., SoarTech, Realtime Technologies Inc., Denso, Veoneer, U.S. Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC), Great Lakes Systems & Technology LLC, and National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Michigan Chapter.

Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 100 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

In the photo above: Accepting the IGVC championship banner and a $3,000 ceremonial check for its fourth straight self-driving world championship are LTU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Srini Kambhampati; IGVC co-founder Gerald Lane; LTU team members James Golding, Justin Dombecki, Mark Kocherovsky, Joseph Schulte, Mitchell Pleune, and Thomas Brefeld; LTU President Virinder Moudgil, LTU computer science professor C.J. Chung; and LTU Provost Tarek Sobh.

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