Roving robotics: Third annual Autonomous Vehicle Competition

SparkFun Electronics’ 2011 autonomous vehicle event in Boulder offered DIY’s of all ages a chance to showcase and test their mobile robotics on the group and in the air.


Roving robots--autonomous vehicles--on the ground and in the air, raced for glory last month, in a contest sponsored by a supplier of electronics components for aspiring do-it-yourself electronic enthusiasts of all ages.

In ASpark Fun AVCpril 2011, SparkFun Electronics hosted the third annual Autonomous Vehicle Competition (AVC) - an event in which home-built autonomous ground and aerial vehicles square off in a no-holds-barred race around SparkFun's Boulder headquarters.

The event, now in its third year, invited entrants to SparkFun's home offices for a day of good-natured (yet also enjoyably cutthroat) robotics competition. Last year's AVC drew 20 teams and approximately 400 spectators. This year, the competition soared to new heights as the limit on the number of teams was lifted and over 40 squads entered to compete. In addition, the course had new obstacles added to increase its difficulty.

"Last year's race showed us that the event is evolving," said SparkFun Engineer Ryan Owens. "We wanted to step it up a notch and add a new degree of difficulty to the race. We are genuinely excited to see how people fare and can't wait to check out the new rigs for this year's AVC."

The AVC originally was held to encourage innovation in embedded electronics, but has quickly become SparkFun's signature event. Individuals have travelled from all over the country and world to compete and watch as competitors throw caution to the wind and put their electronics-laden vehicles to the test.

Competitors vie not only for the fastest lap, but also for other awards like Engineer's Choice (best design) and Kill Switch (most out of control robot).

A recap of AVC 2011 is available online.

SparkFun Electronics

- Edited by Gust Gianos, Control Engineering,

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