Journey to the Future: Autonomous Vehicles

It has not been long since we met the concept of "autonomous vehicle", which we hear more and more every day. This technological concept, which is still widely known as general cultural knowledge, excites us for the future. Let's get to know autonomous vehicles more closely and examine the work of our ITU Solar Car Team.


WHAT IS AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE?


Autonomous vehicles are cars that can move by sensing the traffic flow and the environment while driving, without the need for a driver. The first example of autonomous vehicles, whose history dates back to the 1920s, was produced in the 1980s. In the period from this production to the present, many important companies accelerated their work in this field and some of their vehicles started to go to traffic.


This revolutionary technology will make a name for itself in the future and will be the architect of an important transformation in the automotive industry.


AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE FROM ITU SOLAR CAR TEAM



With the studies started in 2018, ITU SCT entered autonomous technology. Our teammates, who are undergraduate students from ITU, had the opportunity to put their interests into practice.


Starting from the "incubation phase", our autonomous team has entered the phase of getting results with its 3-year cumulative information. As ITU SCT, we were excited to take part in the Robotaxi-Autonomous Passenger Car Competition held at 2021 Teknofest.


Let's take a closer look at the prominent applications of our Autonomous Team, which has been working for a long time to create a technological and competitive vehicle.


THE SYSTEM THAT DOESN'T BE OUT OF THE PATH: LANE FOLLOWING



Thanks to the lane tracking system developed to detect lanes, our autonomous vehicle is freed from the danger of deviating from the road. The cameras placed in the vehicle record the lane information and make the vehicle's travel experience efficient.


COMMUNICATION BETWEEN COMPONENTS: ROS


ROS is a system used to control robots. This technology, which stands for Robot Operating System, is a system developed to provide communication between the components of the robot.


It is a software that processes the data received from the outside world with the help of sensors and directs the command to the robot. The working logic can be briefly explained by the communication between the sender and the receiver. Although ROS is an open source system, it can be characterized as programming language independent.


HOW DOES ROS WORK?



To go through the example, let's consider a lidar collecting data. The lidar, which has 360-degree rotation, is a beam-based tool. This meter collects the set of points for mapping in two dimensions. With another node, these transactions are handled and examined. Nodes, each of which has different features, communicate with each other via ROS. The communication of these nodes, which should work in synchrony, is carried out with a server.


ARIBA AUTONOMOUS AT TEKNOFEST



We took part in the Original Vehicle Category in the competition consisting of two categories. Our vehicle, whose software and production was completely developed by our team, tried to successfully complete the tasks given autonomously within the scope of the competition. Aiming at the development of autonomous driving algorithms, the teams went through 4 different stages in this competition.


All stages of the competition were determined as Preliminary Design Report, Preliminary Design Presentation, Critical Design Report and Vehicle Test Video, respectively. After the Vehicle Test Videos, the teams that made it to the finals were announced.


We had a great success by placing 3rd in the Teknofest Robotaksi-Passenger Autonomous Vehicle Competition, which we participated for the first time. We would like to thank the technology-savvy participants from all over the country who showed great interest in ARIBA Autonomous, the first autonomous vehicle of our team. We would also like to express our gratitude to our university, Istanbul Technical University, which has always supported us.


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