How does a group of U of T Engineering students build an autonomous vehicle that bests its competition year after year? For the aUToronto team, the secret to success is an inclusive and supportive environment.
Since 2018, aUToronto, U of T’s self-driving car team, has put in a consistently strong showing at the SAE AutoDrive Challenge, with five first-place finishes over the past six years. The intercollegiate competition tasks participating teams with developing and demonstrating a fully autonomous-driving passenger vehicle at the end of the second series.
“We really rely on graduate students to help set the direction and sub-team leads to push on the technical development of the team,” says Jiachen (Jason) Zhou (EngSci 2T0 + PEY, UTIAS MASc 2T3), the team’s former principal.
“We have mentorship throughout our team, where students can reach out to senior members for advice and help.
“We also have a group with diverse educational backgrounds pushing forward on all the competition components. I’m so proud of all we have accomplished.”
Earlier this year, from June 4 to20, ten teams from across North America converged at the MCity Test Facility in Ann Arbor, Mich., to compete in the second year of the AutoDrive Challenge II.
“The teams were back to using a real vehicle this past summer, so the competition was so much more exciting as cars had to complete real driving challenges at the MCity test track,” says Professor Steven Waslander (UTIAS), academic advisor to the aUToronto team.
“The requirements get harder every year, and this year was no exception. But as always, one of the highlights for me was seeing the team together at the competition, working toward a common goal — aUToronto is such a supportive environment and the students on the team are super passionate and capable.”