First Try, Best Result!
Winner of 2017 Smart Model Car Competition
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To foster future leaders of unfolding automobiles market and self-driving cars, Hanyang University (HYU) hosted its 15th Smart Model Car Competition at the Olympic Gymnasium on the 14th of July. Applause of encouragement and cheers were heard here and there with shout outs of supports being made each time a team took their turn to run their cars. Of the 20 teams that made it to the final, team Future Automotive Engineering (FAE) won the first place. All five members of the team are students of the Department of Automotive Engineering: Park Sung-woo (4th year), Shin Hyun-ki (4th year), Park Soo-hyun (4th year), Byun Hyo-seok (2nd year), and Byeon Moo-kyung (4th year).
Participants were required to develop an embedded control system (a smart computer system enabling machines to operate on their own) and run their cars on the track, which was readily set in the Olympic Gymnasium, waiting for the entrants to come. Each team was to bring their cars to the start line and present its ability when called upon. The missions were as follows: cars must drive in the middle of the lane, must avoid obstacles, must speed down in the school zone and go back to the original speed after leaving the zone, should be able to go over the hill, and must make curves without departing the lane. Now, ready, set, go!
Unforeseen and unforgettable
“None of us expected to win the competition. Since all five of us has no experience of participating in a contest like this, we thought we would barely make it to the final,” began Byun. About 100 teams were present for the preliminary round, after which 20 teams were selected for the final. Much to their surprise, when team FAE passed the preliminary round ranking the 4th place, their goal changed to complete the track and make it to the finish line in the final. What was surprising was not only the fact that they have won the competition but also that they were the only team who made it to the finish line. “We were happy with the result, of course, but at the same time, we were quite shook from such unexpected outcome. We didn’t expect to be the only team to complete the track,” remarked Byun.
The most essential requisite for the car was to keep itself in the middle of the lane, not crossing over to the other or departing it. When the car was free to drive, it had to maintain its speed and make curves as the track demanded. Then at some point, school zone was marked by thick, black lines in which the car had to slow down and avoid the obstacles. Marking the end of the school zone with another set of thick black lines, the car was to go back to its original speed and finish the track, passing a hill and stopping at the finish line without bumping into the blockage. FAE’s car has successfully fulfilled all these requirements and confidently marched to the end.
Sung-woo, who was the team leader, was looking for fellow students who would join his team. The members came together as one team through acquaintance, since they took the same course. The team first gathered around April, in the middle of the semester, and met up from time to time to work on their automobile. It was after the semester was over that they deeply got down to their business and invested more time on constructing the car. They even got access to the 3D printer thanks to professor Yoon Soo-kyung and tested their designs, by mapping out where each part should lie. Nonetheless, they received no particular help from any of their professors to be fair. “This course named 'Microprocessor' we took was quite helpful in a way that it taught us about the parts we used for this competition.”
Fix it till you make it
“Finding the right angle of the camera, which will be the eye of the car, was one of the most difficult tasks,” recalled Park. It was crucial to adjust the camera at the perfect angle because the car has to sense and move according to what it observes. If it is too short-sighted, the car will fail to perceive the other lane and if it is too far-sighted, the car will easily depart the lane. “We had to remove and adjust the camera countless times to find the perfect spot. Everything will go into nothing if the camera fails to observe the area correctly in the first place,” explained Byeon.
In addition, more than ten parts had to be replaced because they were burned during the process. If one part goes wrong, the whole thing fails to function. Therefore, it was crucial that each part maintained its good condition. Overall, the process was not so smooth, as the members struggled to “Our team name was uninteresting, our car wasn’t that flashy, and we even had to fix it until the last minute. However, our car presented the best performance and eventually became the only car that finished the whole track. This was unexpected, but we’re very happy with how it all turned out,” said the members unanimously.
Jeon Chae-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Min-ju
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