They brought the glory home

Congratulations to Shell Eco-Marathon (SEM) Team Monash for winning first place in the Shell Eco-Marathon Autonomous Programming Competition 2021. Because of the pandemic, the competition was held virtually this year - consisting of several challenges.

In partnership with Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the competition was designed to allow the participating teams to develop path planning, perception, and control algorithms for an autonomous vehicle using the Robot Operating System (ROS). The generated codes were tested in a simulated environment using Microsoft AirSim with the Unreal Engine. The winner was ranked based on the number of goals achieved; energy efficiency, distance travelled and the time taken to complete the race.

It was a team effort, led by Teh Jayson, a Mechatronics Engineering student and the current Head of the Intelligence Department in SEM Team Monash. Fifteen other students were also actively participating in the discussions and planning of the competition.

According to them, designing and building an autonomous vehicle is expensive because it has to be equipped with numerous sensors and actuators, and algorithms to navigate the environment while avoiding obstacles. This competition provides a unique platform for the students to apply the theoretical concepts they learned in class and implement them in a simulated environment.

The team won USD 1,500 and 150 Virtual League Points, where the league points propelled the team to second place in the Asia League Table and Global League Table.

This winning team is motivated by the concept of making cars smarter as part of the team's goal to produce a fully autonomous vehicle by 2022. The groundwork has begun, and they are very excited to start the construction and implementations of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the vehicle. They have been developing the AI for the past three years under the guidance of the team's advisor Dr Darwin Gouwanda from the School of Engineering.

The competition was tough, and many top universities participated in this event. Some are better at path planning, some are better with navigation, while others have better efficiency. When asked about their experience, the team believes they can achieve such great heights. Even though they faced several setbacks in 2018 and 2019 and a cancelled competition in 2020, they never stopped aiming high and pushing their limits.

Thank you for making us proud!