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DRC rept

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Report on Macquarie University
‘Droid Race Challenge’
Funding outcome
Erik Muller, on behalf of the Macquarie University DRC team,
2018., September, 2018.
This document contains a report on the objectives and outcome of the Macquarie University entrant
for the Queensland University of Technology ‘Droid Race Challenge 2018’ (see
https://qutrobotics.com/2018/01/16/drc-2018/), a national competition to build small vehicle
demonstrators of computer-vision-based navigation.
Herein, we acknowledge with gratitude the
contributions enabled through the ‘NSW
Research Attraction and Acceleration Program,’
Science and Engineering Student Competition
Sponsorship Program, operated and managed
by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and
Engineer.
With the funding enabled by the Office of the
NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, we were
able to develop an extremely competitive,
high-performance robotic machine within
budget, following race competition rules and
Figure 1: Droid entrant display at the Australian
Engineer Conference (AEC), International
meeting all deadlines. As overall costs were
Convention Centre, September 2018.
offset by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist
and Engineer funding, Macquarie University
School of Engineering were able to fund incidentals as well as travel and accommodation for key
members of our team to attend the event: critical for provision of urgent adjustments during the
competition.
Our achievements at the competition span not only the successfully-run race heat (achieving a
superior lap time to competitors in the first heat, though unfortunately receiving collision timepenalties), but exposure to, and collaboration with Australia-wide engineering students, including
academic institutes from Queensland, Victoria and NSW and the industry partners associated with
the event. In total, approximately fifty students competed from almost ten Universities. Visiting
public and other attendees totalled another approximately fifty people.
We were able to distribute both visibly (through branding on the race robot) and through discussion,
the contributions by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer. I believe information about
the generosity of the office to enable implementation of the main computing and ancillary support
hardware for our machine was well received and generated significant interest and discussion
among the competitor teams, including from the general public and industry attending the event.
As the race requirements were that the robots use visual-based navigation via detection of solid
colours, we opted for a black-and-white version of the brand placed on the top surface of the
machine, so it could be made larger and receive higher visibility without confusing the vision-based
navigation system.
Our robot is now on permanent display at the
Macquarie University school of Engineering, but is
also displayed at other national engineering events
showcasing the capabilities of Macquarie University
students. Included here (Figure 1) is a photograph of
the machine at the Australian Engineering
Conference (AEC), Macquarie University
Mechatronics stand at the International Convention
Centre at Darling Harbour, September 2018.
At this point, QUT have not posted their
documentation of the event, though I have ensured
the branding of the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist
and Engineer was captured. The Office of the NSW
Figure 2: Video still of the competition Heat for the
Chief Scientist and Engineer will be notified when the
Macquarie University DRC entrant. Branding for the
QUT droid race website is accessible. In the interim,
NSW Chief Scientist and engineer is visible in black
we include below a still (Figure 2) from a personal
and white, on the top-left surface of the machine.
movie (not distributed to the public) of the actual
competition event, while the branding is not ideally
clear in that image, it appears as the black and white logo on the top surface of the machine.
On behalf of the Macquarie University School of Engineering, Mechatronics droid race team, we
extend our gratitude and thanks to the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer for their
funding and support. We hope we have been able to satisfactorily oblige the Office, and welcome
any further comment, discussion or collaboration in the future.
Promotional statement:
Funding provided by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer enabled development of a
competitive, autonomously-driving robot car to compete in the national QUT droid race.
With design limited by total cost and geometry of the robot, the race brought together engineering
students from Universities around Australia, to contest their concepts for an image-based computer
navigation. Leveraging funding from the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, augmented
with additional local funding enabled our team to travel to the event, we were able to exchange
ideas and hold discussions with other teams, and explore and develop concepts.
The competition was a unique opportunity to compete and discuss ideas and concepts with students
and academics around Australia, meet and confer with representatives of leading industries, and
tour Australian research centres of excellence.
The event was also attended by key people from the sponsors and from the industry sector, included
a tour through the centre of excellence at the University and the University workshop facilities.
It’s with enormous gratitude we thank the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer for their
generosity in providing funding to our team for our entrant to the QUT droid race challenge.
Erik Muller
Student of Bachelor of Engineering, Mechatronics major, Macquarie University.
2018 Macquarie University DRC Team members:
Dr. David Inglis (supervising academic), Erik Muller, Thomas Upfold, Ethan Salafia
With additional thanks to support and assistance from
Jamie Linsel, Ryan Stein, Lewis Hyman