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Look mom, no hands! UW students part of driverless car competition

The University of Waterloo has been chosen for the GM AutoDrive Challenge, a three year autonomous vehicle design competition.

University of Waterloo group one of eight North American universities chosen

UW students at Detroit announcement where they were chosen to participate in AutoDrive Challenge. (Left to right -Krisztian Kurucz, Briar Smith, Ella Rasmussen, Richard Lee, Prof Derek Rayside, Chad Bissett and Utkarsh Saini (provided photo by Roydon Fraser)

Students at the University of Waterloo have been chosen to compete in General Motors AutoDrive Challenge, a three year autonomous vehicle design competition to develop and demonstrate a fully operational driverless vehicle. 

Derek Rayside, a professor of electrical and computer engineering with the University of Waterloo, will be guiding the students through the timeline of the project.

He told CBC K-W's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris the students will be given a Chevrolet Bolt EV by the end of this summer and provided with sensors that need to be added to the car.

"The first order of business will be to mount various sensors on the car, cameras, radar and LIDAR (light detection and ranging), which is like radar but using lasers. Those are primarily for depth perception," Rayside said.

"Then we'll need to put a bunch of computers in the trunk to process all the information from those sensors and to make decisions about where the car should go."

Rayside said by the end of the third year the student-produced vehicle should be able to drive around a test track avoiding obstacles and changing lanes.

The prize?  

"I think fame and glory," Rayside said, laughing. "The main prize is being accepted to compete. We get the vehicle and the funding to do this project. That's the main benefit for the students."

The University of Toronto is the only other Canadian university to be accepted for the inaugural competition.

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