Championship of KNE Fideltronik in international competition of autonomous vehicles NXP Cup

The team of KNE Fideltronik, representing the AGH University of Science and Technology, took first place in the finals of the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) of the autonomous vehicles competition NXP Cup 2017, improving their result from the previous year. 

The winning team consists of the students of the Faculty of Computer Science, Electronics and Telecommunications, who are also members of the Student Special Interest Group of Electronic Engineers: Rafał Mszal, Jakub Mojsiejuk, and Dawid Worek. The team supervisor is Łukasz Krzak, MSc. 

The European preliminaries of the competition were entered by 95 teams from 50 universities. The final of the EMEA region, which took place in Munich on 27-28 April 2017, was reached by 17 teams from 9 countries. 

The competition consisted in preparing the vehicle so that it could move independently along a track marked by two black lines on a white surface – which partly resembles a real road situation – using only information received by means of its own sensors (for example, a camera). The competition takes the form of a race, in which the important elements are the time of covering the distance, and the fact of following a given route without moving beyond the black lines. 

The first day was assigned to training in which the contestants tested their vehicles on the sections that were later used to assemble the final track. This time was mainly used to check and verify the various elements of the steering algorithm, as well as to set parameters such as the maximum speed or the dynamics of braking, which had to be adjusted to surface grip. The KNE Fideltronik team gradually tested and tuned the most sensitive elements of the steering algorithm, such as detecting and moving over an elevation, and they also determined the maximum speed and the method of braking in different configurations of the track, which was going to be important in the final race. In the first hours of the training session, it could already be noticed that this year’s finals were going to be at a very high level – the teams from Romania and Ukraine were especially good. 

The next day was dedicated to the last, over three-hour long practice session, after which all the teams had to submit their vehicles for inspection. The KNE Fideltronik team decided not to compete against the teams from Romania and Ukraine on the test track, focusing mainly on fixing the last remaining problems in the steering algorithm. In the first place, it was important to make sure that the vehicle would cope with every single section of the final track. The decision turned out to be a good strategy, as it caused surprise and uncertainty among the other teams, even the ones that were considered to be the favourites of the competition. 

It was going to be a fierce rivalry. The AGH UST team was assigned number 14, which was a good starting point – the two Romanian teams raced before our contestants, and the teams from Ukraine and Switzerland were just after them. The members of KNE Fideltronik had another reason to be optimistic – the final track, unlike the test track, was quite winding and had a few long sections, which was advantageous for the teams that had tested the various parts and sections of the track before. 

After 13 teams, the competition was going according to expectations: having had good races, the strong leaders were the two teams from Romania, whose time difference was just 0.1 second. The KNE Fideltronik team decided to focus on the smoothness of the ride rather than on reaching the maximum speed, which on the winding sections of the track allowed them to gain a considerable advantage over their rivals, and to complete the first race with the time of 19.857 seconds, nearly 1.2 seconds faster than the until-then leader from Romania. Just after the AGH UST contestants was the team from Ukraine. The first seconds of their ride showed that the competition was going to be fierce until the very last centimetres. However, it turned out quickly that the hot favourite for victory had problems with stability, and after three unsuccessful attempts they did not manage to complete the final. The last vehicle in the competition was the team from Switzerland – the winner of the last two editions of the competition. Similarly to their predecessor, the vehicle’s ride was very dynamic, but unstable. The third unsuccessful attempt was the last race of the final, which meant that the winner of NXP Cup 2017 was the team of KNE Fideltronik. 

The final ride of our team (starts at 01:40)  

There is no doubt that our students have a real passion and great ambitions – the one-hour waiting for the official results they spent testing the vehicle on the final track, already thinking ahead of the competition next year. 

The final ranking of the competition is available here

The cost of participating in this year’s edition of NXP Cup was partly financed from the Rector’s Grant for student special interest groups. The participation of the AGH UST teams in the competition NXP Cup EMEA, similarly to the previous years, is sponsored by the company Fideltronik.