Driven NYU Tandon Students Create Prize-Winning Autonomous Vehicle
The annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), held in Rochester, Michigan, in June of each year, aims to give a hands-on experience to engineering students who want to use cutting-edge tools to design one of the most discussed technologies of the last five years: the self-driving car. At this year’s competition, NYU Tandon students Bryan Beider, Saadia Qamar, Shivam Bhardwaj, Jingwen Du, David Rafanan, Meraj Choudhury, Marcus Bachu, and Yulin Ye began working with a golf cart that didn’t even have lights installed. Despite that humble start, their team, A.I. Madness, finished at the top of the competition, creating a two-passenger self-driving car with a navigation algorithm designed for accuracy and parts made from 3D-printed materials that were manufactured in NYU Tandon's MakerSpace.
A.I. Madness won first place in the design category for their vehicle (called “Little Beetle”), impressing judges with their commitment to fabricating so much of their vehicle themselves: the mounts and gears used for the drive-by-wire system were 3D-printed, and the vehicle’s steering and acceleration were made from inexpensive microcontrollers. Approaching the deadline of the competition, one team member, Meraj Choudhury, had an idea: install a pneumatic system that used two air muscles across the brake pedal. That isn’t to say the team didn’t hit some proverbial bumps in the road: they intended to use a model predictive controller (MPC), a more robust controlling mechanism that automatically decides natural driving maneuvers, but, given the time restrictions imposed by the IGVC, the team opted to use a less time-consuming proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controller, which calculates and corrects errors as the vehicle drives.
A.I. Madness also won third place overall, and team captain Bryan Beider says that they are committed to doing even better in next year’s competition. “There is still a lot to learn and different areas to explore, but we love what we do, so I am confident we will reach the top next year,” he said. The team’s success, according to Beider, is due to the extensive research they’ve done, and will continue to do, on a daily basis. It’s also thanks to support from Professor Yao Wang, Professor Shivendra Panwar, and Raquel Thompson of Tandon’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department, as well as Kurt Becker, Vice Dean for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.
NYU Tandon School of Engineering
Master of Science in Integrated Digital Media, Class of 2019