“It’s a tremendous learning experience, and our AutoDrive alums end up having great jobs with bright futures.”
On Friday, the Kettering University AutoDrive team, Bulldog Bolt, unveiled its new competition car, the Chevy Bolt EV.
The team is in its second year of the AutoDrive II Challenge. The four-year competition, sponsored by SAE International and General Motors, tasks 10 teams with developing and demonstrating a completely autonomous-driving passenger vehicle. Each year, the competition builds on the next by adding more challenges.
During the challenge's first year, the team outfitted a large metal cart with sensors to collect data. The team placed second in the Dynamic Obstacle Challenge, and faculty advisor Dr. Diane Peters received the inaugural Advisor of the Year award.
This year, students will start working on the car.
“The cart prepared us specifically for the perception part of the car,” Peters said. “We were able to set up sensors and test them out. Now, we can put those sensors on the car and focus on the new part: integration with the car.”
Project Manager Hemanth Tadepalli (’23, CS) said the team is ready to move on to the car.
“With the transition from the cart to this year’s car, the team overall feels excited and challenged to implement more strategies and controls into the tasks,” he said. “More importantly, with the car being the most realistic mode of transportation, it’s exciting to see how we can use our expertise to navigate various boundaries and obstacles to make the car autonomous.”
After the sensors are mounted, students will start testing.
“The team has made a lot of progress,” Peters said. “We’ve still got plenty of work to do, but they’re learning a lot and putting it into practice.”
Each competition takes place in June. Until then, teams continue to tweak their cars and participate in workshops. The Year Two challenge will be June 5-11 at MCity in Ann Arbor.
Although the team is in its second year, students can still participate.
“Any interested students are encouraged to learn more about the competition and join the team,” Peters said. “It’s a tremendous learning experience, and our AutoDrive alums end up having great jobs with bright futures.”
Tadepalli echoed Peters’ call for new members, noting having the talent to complete the task is one of the team’s biggest challenges. He said the skills students gain from the experience are just the beginning of the benefits.
“AutoDrive gives the students the opportunity to network with many industries that relate to the automobile field,” Tadepalli said. “If it’s from the coaches, mentors and other students from other schools, all of this brings the expansion of networking and working together with like-minded people on the future of automobiles.”