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Next stop: Carolo Cup 2014

Christian Berger came to the University of Gothenburg in April 2012. He is a senior lecturer in the Software Engineering division, and his main research interest is autonomous vehicles. He wrote his doctoral thesis on this topic, and also worked for a while in the automotive industry before coming to Sweden.

During Christian's time as a PhD student, he was responsible for an interdisciplinary team at the TU Braunschweig in Germany, which developed a self- driving car and competed in "The 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge" in the United States.

One of the professors in Braunschweig came upon the idea to import the concept of a competition to Germany, but to compete with full-size cars is expensive and requires lots of resources in terms of development and construction, and perhaps above all, safety. In the United States the races have run in the Mojave Desert and on huge army air bases. To solve this, the format of the cars was scaled down to 1:10. This way, the students could be offered a similar challenge, but without the huge requirements.

“With miniature cars, it is still possible, with respect to safety and cost, to gain experience in designing, developing and maintaining systems of this type” says Christian Berger.

The first Carolo Cup was run at TU Braunschweig in 2008. The concept is that students design, build and program their car from "scratch". In the race the car has to, completely autonomously, be able to follow its lane on a track and manage intersections safely. When an obstacle appears on the road, the car should stop, analyse the situation, pass the obstacle and then continue in its own lane to, finally, park itself in a sideways parking strip. The students should also present their car to a jury, describing both hardware and software solutions. The team with the best combined scores from driving and presentation wins.

The team from Gothenburg won the first junior edition of Carolo Cup

When Christian Berger came to Sweden, he felt that it would be fun to create a team of students from the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers, working on technologies for self-driving vehicles, and let them compete in the Carolo Cup. The idea was born in the spring of 2012, but it took until the fall semester before Christian Berger, together with colleagues Olaf Landsiedel and Elad Schiller in the Networks and Systems division, had assembled a team and could start the preparations for Carolo Cup 2013. It was a tough semester for the seven students who joined "Team DR Meili”.

“Basically we had five months left. From the first ideas, through the entire process of buying components, finding sponsors for the trip to Germany, and to integrate the new hardware and software” says Christian Berger.

Team DR Meili

ABOVE: Team DR.Meili. From the left: Seyed Ehsan Mohajerani , Mahsa Mirtalebi, Munir Fetewi, Paschalis Tsolakidis, Sofia Charalampidou, Anna Orazova. Benjamin Vedder is missing in the photo.

BELOW: Some adjustments...

adjusting the winning car

In 2013, for the first time, the Carolo Cup offered a "Junior Edition” – a separate division for teams competing for the first time, and with the part of overtaking obstacles excluded. In the remaining parts, lane following, parking, and presenting to the jury, the students from Gothenburg got the highest score and took the first prize.

The two teams 2014 are both well prepared for next competition

Facing the Carolo Cup 2014, the situation looks completely different. Preparations began in the spring semester 2013 with the project course ”Industrial IT and Embedded Systems", in which students at the bachelor program in Software Engineering have an introduction to embedded systems and embedded systems development, with a self-driving miniature car as an example. The students are continuously interested, and want to specialize in this technology – and participate in the Carolo Cup – have the opportunity to take a special course in the fall semester, which means that they can also be credited with points for the competition.

“The introduction course worked very well” said Christian, “the students were at a higher level at the start of the Carolo Cup project, we could address really challenging problems, which are of interest not only from a teaching and research perspective, but also from industrial partners, or from other research communities who are dealing with self-driving vehicular technology”.

Close connection to current and relevant topics in the automotive industry

One example of such a challenge, that several research groups in both Europe and the U.S. are working on, is to let the car create and handle a map, which based on previously collected data helps it to run smoothly through a ”familiar" surrounding. Not only do the students get the chance to practice setting up and running a project with a tight schedule and tight deadlines, they also learn about a topic that is current and relevant in the automotive industry.

Fourteen students divided into two teams are currently working intensively on the preparations for Carolo Cup 2014. They are students from the bachelor program in Software Engineering and from the master’s programmes in Computer Science, Computer Systems and Networks, and Systems, Control and Mechatronics.

“Despite the fact that the teams are working with two different concepts, they work very well together, sharing ideas and solutions” says Christian, “it's been very interesting to see the development from week to week throughout the project”.

Team Legendary added disc brakes, to be able to manage higher speed by braking each wheel individually. Team Tetrix took a new approach by using the programming language Erlang for the software, an innovative method for embedded systems in the automotive industry.

“My feeling is that if we prepare our students well for working with this technology, they learn about the pitfalls and challenges, and they get experience in working and managing projects over a longer period of time” says Christian Berger.

December 2013


Text: Anneli Andersson and Annemieke van Vijk

Photo: Oscar Mattsson and Roman Brodel (the photo of Christian)

Christian Berger

Christian BergerChristian Berger is researcher within the area of autonomous vehicles and is responsible for the preparations for the two teams from Gothenburg taking part in the junior edition of Carolo Cup 2014.

Team DR Meili's winning car from 2013

The winning car, Carolo Cup

Page Manager: Catharina Jerkbrant|Last update: 4/30/2014

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