WATonomous rounds out the final year of the challenge with a second place win, culminating four years of hard work.
The University of Waterloo’s student-led autonomous vehicle team, WATonomous, placed second in the SAE AutoDrive Challenge. Converting a stock Chevrolet Bolt EV into a fully autonomous vehicle, WATonomous completed the final year of competition with their best results to date.
In its final year of competition, WATonomous demonstrated the culmination of four years of hard work from over 800 students. Advised by Waterloo Engineering professors Derek Rayside (electrical and computer engineering) and William Melek (mechanical and mechatronics engineering), the team, led by electrical and computer engineering students, Charles Zhang and Rowan Dempster, is currently comprised of more than 50 students. Alongside this competition, WATonomous has supported twelve engineering capstone projects and collaborated with research groups such as the Mechatronics Vehicle Systems Lab and Autonomoose.
“The AutoDrive Challenge has been an amazing opportunity for students at the University of Waterloo to explore and contribute to the future of autonomous vehicles with industry leaders such as GM and MathWorks. Our results in Year 4 has made clear the University of Waterloo’s dedication to autonomous vehicles and solidified our students as some of the best in North America”-Charles Zhang, current WATonomous team captain.
Similar to the previous year’s challenge, the competition was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions in effect across North America. Entries were evaluated on static tests, presentations, and reports. Two weeks of judging resulted in multiple awards for the WATonomous team:
- Overall: 2nd Place
- Safety + Technical Reports: 1st Place
- Social Responsibility Report: 2nd Place
- Social Responsibility Event: 3rd Place
- Concept Design Report: 3rd Place
Despite the SAE AutoDrive Challenge ending this year, WATonomous is committed to being a major contributor to autonomous driving research and development at the University of Waterloo. The team will continue to develop their autonomous driving platform and is strengthen its research initiatives and industry partnerships. This accomplishment is only the beginning of WATonomous’ mission to accelerate autonomous transportation research.