LTU wins seventh straight collegiate self-driving car crown

SOUTHFIELD—For the seventh straight year, Lawrence Technological University was the champion of the Self-Drive Challenge category in the 31st annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, held May 31-June 3 on the grounds of Oakland University in Rochester.

And this year, it was mostly competing with itself, to outdo last year’s championship team.

A total of 20 collegiate teams signed up for the IGVC, a competition sponsored by the defense and automotive industries, which has two divisions—the Self-Drive Challenge for passenger-sized vehicles, and the Auto-Nav Challenge, for smaller wheeled vehicles that look a bit like office building mail delivery robots.

Only three teams signed up for the Self-Drive Challenge, and by the time the competition started over the weekend, one team had dropped out. Finishing second to LTU was a team from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly known as Cooper Union, a private college in New York City.

Last year’s LTU team won the competition despite being unable to complete the entire course, a twisting “road” of white tape boundaries laid down on an OU parking lot and strewn with obstacles. This year’s team, however, did manage to complete an even more difficult course.

Members of the LTU team were team captain Devson Butani, a Master of computer science major from Rajkat, India; Ryan Kaddis, a computer science major from Bloomfield Hills; Milan Jostes, a computer science major from Lake Elmo, Minn.; Vipul Prajapati, a Master of computer science major from India; Steven Kill, a Master of Computer Science student from Rochester Hills; and Travis Bowman, a robotics engineering and computer science double major from Belleville. Faculty advisors of the team were LTU adjunct professors and former team members Nicholas Paul, Joe DeRose, and Justin Dombecki, and Chan-Jin “CJ” Chung, LTU professor of computer science.

LTU alumni and former IGVC competitors Mitch Pleune and Charles Faulkner visited the competition to assist and encourage the self-drive team members. Both are now working engineers, Pleune for the auto supplier Magna International Inc. and Faulkner for the U.S. Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center in Warren, which developed the IGVC competition in the early 1990s.

A video of the winning LTU vehicle’s performance is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRai5y-gD3k

Winning the Auto-Nav Challenge for the second straight year was the University of Oklahoma. IGVC officials said the Oklahoma team was the only one to finish the entire course, maneuvering on a white-striped “roadway” strewn with obstacles in an OU parking lot. Three teams from India and one from Egypt also participated. The team from the Military Technical College of Egypt won the Rookie of the Year Award.

Sponsors of the event were: The OU School of Engineering and Computer Science; the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International Great Lakes; Great Lakes Systems and Technology LLC, a military mobility contractor; the U.S. Army GVSC; RoboNation, a robotics nonprofit; Hyundai Mobis, the Korean auto supplier; the National Defense Industries Association-Michigan; Magna International; the National Advanced Mobility Consortium, a Department of Defense contractor membership organization; Dataspeed Inc., a Rochester Hills-based drive-by-wire software developer; and BAE Systems, a defense and aerospace firm.

More information is available at www.igvc.org. Full event results are at http://www.gl-systems-technology.net/igvc-2024.html. The 2025 IGVC has already been scheduled for May 30-June 2 on the OU campus.

Lawrence Technological University is one of only 13 private, technological, comprehensive doctoral universities in the United States. Located in Southfield, Mich., LTU was founded in 1932 and offers more than 100 programs through its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, Engineering, and Health Sciences, as well as Specs@LTU as part of its growing Center for Professional Development. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report list it in the top tier of the best Midwest colleges. 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 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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