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Fast but controlled: racing car built during Protocamp course is equipped with artificial intelligence

The Speed Demon project team was commissioned to build a small self-driving AI racing car.
Aalto University / Olli Paloviita lähettää auton kisaan / photo: Linda Koskinen
The small self-driving AI racing car was commissioned by Futurice.

Let the race begin! The Protocamp summer course allows students to complete assignments for companies from different fields. Olli Paloviita, Ture Saarniniemi, Kaisu Hiltunen, Pyry Vaara and Taige Wang took on a project with the aim of building a small autonomous AI race car. The challenge was set by Futurice, a company that develops web and mobile software. We were allowed to follow how the project progressed from the idea all the way to the race against Futurice teams.

Aalto University / Speed Demon -projektiryhmä ja auton osat / photo: Linda Koskinen
The parts for the car have arrived and the prototype of the flexible bumper has been 3D printed so the building can start!

Friday 28 June

Many people are enjoying their holidays, but the project team is going full steam ahead. The parts for the racing car have finally arrived — albeit without a battery or charger — and the prototype of the flexible bumper has been successfully 3D printed. The computer to be used in the car is also up and running, so the building can start!

Friday 9 August

Olli, Ture, Kaisu, Pyry and Taige spent July hard at work, and now the car and its cameras are ready for action. The next step is building the race track and teaching the AI of  the car. The team is also working on a braking system, activated by distance sensors, that will stop the car if the sensors detect an obstacle. The purpose of the system is to prevent collisions in situations where the autopilot loses control of the car. 

Aalto University / projektiryhmä rakentaa kilpa-autoa / photo: Linda Koskinen
The team is trying to determine why the connection to the Arduino microcontroller is preventing the rest of the self-driving software from working.
Aalto University / Itseohjautuva kilpa-auto / photo: Linda Koskinen
The car is ready and the next step is teaching its AI.

Friday 16 August

The final event of the course is approaching quickly. The Speed Demon project team is planning to drive and teach the car for the first time this week, as soon as the tape needed for creating the track arrives. While waiting for the ordered tape, the team will try to determine why the connection to the Arduino microcontroller platform is preventing the rest of the self-driving software from working.

Thursday 22 August, race day and final event of the course

Race day! The tape arrived in time and the car has completed successful laps on the training track. Today it will be challenged by two Futurice racing cars from Tampere. Spectators accumulate around the race track to see the three self-driving vehicles compete.

Aalto University / Yleisö kerääntyi katsomaan itseohjautuvien kilpa-autojen kisaa / photo: Linda Koskinen
The self-driving car race attracted a good audience.
Aalto University / Protopaja2019 / photo: Linda Koskinen
The car built by the Speed Demon team (in the middle) competed against two Futurice cars before the final event of the course.
Aalto University / Speed Demon -projektiryhmä / photo: Linda Koskinen
That’s a winner’s smile! The Speed Demon project team from left to right: Ture Saarniniemi, Kaisu Hiltunen, Olli Paloviita and Taige Wang. Pyry Vaara is missing from the photograph.

All three cars have some difficulty staying on the track, but the Aalto car wins with two out of three of the best performances! Congratulations! Will the team continue racing in the future? 

’Futurice will organise similar racing events in the future and we have been invited to participate. We’ll have to see how enthusiastic the team is’, Paloviita says.

’I definitely recommend the Protocamp course to everyone: teams are free to work on their projects as they see fit and assistance is available for almost any problem.’

 

The Protocamp course provides students from different fields with the opportunity to design and build a prototype for one of the course’s business partners. Examples of this year’s projects include a throwable camera, a small autonomous AI racing car, and a remote controlled electricity controller.

This year’s course partners were Aboense, Futurice, Helvar, JoyHaptics, Riot Innovations, Savox and SICK.

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