The annual International Autonomous Robot Racing Competition is a two-day event in which four student teams will compete to see which of their robots can out-maneuver and speed to victory in a series of circuit and drag races.

UWaterloo Engineering Robot car

Teams from Georgia Tech, University of Western Ontario and Waterloo Collegiate Institute join Waterloo Engineering to test their ability to build a simple, cheap, and autonomous robot vehicle that can drive as fast as possible in an uncertain environment without any external help.

“Last year, Georgia Tech took home first place over Waterloo, who are now itching to set the record straight,” said Steve Waslander, a professor in Waterloo’s Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering department. “In 2014, Western and WCI had so much trouble racing indoors because the reflections of cones and walls from the shiny floors of Waterloo Engineering’s Sedra Student Design Centre confused the robots’ visual system. Those teams are gunning to significantly improve their results.” 

This year the competition will take place outdoors on a huge track in the parking lot of the Engineering 5 building on the east side of the campus, which, according to Waslander, will pose its own environmental challenges. Without remote controls, the robots rely upon their own internal systems once the start button is pressed. Like the rover on Mars and other autonomous vehicles used in mining and rescue operations, these robot vehicles depend upon their creators ability to correctly design, build, program, integrate and debug them so they can operate in uncertain environments without assistance.

“The racing is the fun part for the teams and the spectators,” said Waslander. “But then again building autonomous robot race cars is a lot of fun, too.”

Date: Saturday, July 18, 2015
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Engineering 5, University of Waterloo.

Waterloo Engineering introduced the IARRC in 2005 as a method to promote research in autonomous mobile robotics technology. This is the third time Waterloo has hosted the event.

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