Engineering

ECE Students Win Model Car Competition

A trio of undergraduates in the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) — Andrew Chung, Sam Dawson and Justin Laguardia — just became the North American champions at the National Freescale Cup Autonomous Model Car Competition.

Andrew Chung, Sam Dawson and Justin Laguardia, undergraduates in the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), are the North American champions at the National Freescale Cup Autonomous Model Car Competition.

Andrew Chung, Sam Dawson and Justin Laguardia, undergraduates in the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), are the North American champions at the National Freescale Cup Autonomous Model Car Competition.

The annual event, sponsored by Freescale Semiconductor, challenges students to design and build an autonomous model car that relies on optical sensors, a small computer and student-developed software, in order to navigate a complex racetrack. The UC Davis engineers — calling themselves “Team Dinky” — qualified for this national cup after defeating 17 other teams during the Western Regional competition, which took place April 18, 2015, as part of UC Davis’ Picnic Day activities.

Team Dinky then became one of the three U.S. teams to compete at the North America Freescale Cup Championship, which took place May 2 at New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology. The Aggie engineers faced stiff competition from the University of Texas, San Antonio (Central Region), and the University of Rhode Island (Eastern Region), but Team Dinky’s vehicle sped aggressively through the racetrack and secured a decisive victory.

Now, as the newly minted North American champs, the UC Davis team will advance to the Worldwide Freescale Cup Championship, which will be held Sept. 14-15 at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, in Erlangen, Germany.

Team Dinky developed their car as part of ECE’s Autonomous Vehicle Senior Design project course, under the direction of instructor and development engineer Lance Halsted.

The Freescale Cup, formerly known as the Smart Car Race, began in 2003 when Korea’s Hanyang University hosted 80 teams of students. Since that modest origin, the annual event has expanded throughout North America, Europe, China, India, Malaysia and Latin America, impacting more than 15,000 students at more than 500 schools.

The global competition requires student teams to build, program and race a model car around a track for speed, with victory going to the fastest car that completes the course without derailing. The creation of each autonomous car requires embedded software programming and basic circuit creation, using Freescale parts included in the entry kit; student-developed motor control hardware and software, to propel and steer the intelligent vehicle; and a student-developed camera interface, to navigate the vehicle through the race by following the course guide line.

Freescale Semiconductor Inc. is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Austin, Texas. The company designs and produces embedded hardware and software for the automotive, networking, industrial and consumer markets, with a portfolio that includes microcontrollers, microprocessors, digital signal processors and controllers, RF power integrated circuits, power management integrated circuits, and software development tools.