Robot Cars at AutoSens

Taking to the Mezzanine stage during the closing keynote session at AutoSens this September, a group of high school students from the NWAPW programme (Northwest Advanced Programming Workshop) in Portland, Oregon presented their work on creating a scale autonomous car.

They described the platform, a modified low-cost RC car combined with custom software and how it will allow companies to connect and partner with high schools and colleges enabling them to quickly create their own autonomous vehicle program.

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Keynote session at AutoSens Brussels 2018

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Q&A Panel

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“It’s truly amazing to me to see the level these students are at, and what they have achieve purely under their own steam,” commented Robert Stead, Chairman of the AutoSens conference. “NWAPW has been set up to be entirely student-led, so they have had to work out how to structure the team, how to manage the work, and all other aspects of the project as well as the technical aspects involved in getting their model vehicle up and running.”

In addition to the presentation the students demonstrated the robot cars in action along the Blue Boulevard in the AutoSens exhibition area.

“The team proved that even high school students are capable of writing the code necessary to control a small autonomous vehicle ” comments Director of the programme, Steven Edelman. He continues, “But more importantly, they developed a package of hardware, software and support that will allow any school to host their own program where their students can do the same thing.”

Attendees had the opportunity to interact with the students one-on-one. The kids were in the lead, answering questions, explaining the program and describing how their program will help companies get students involved with engineering and autonomous vehicles in particular.

“We continue to face a severe shortage of trained engineers.  This program was created by high school students who understand that today’s kids have ready access to computers so a hands-on program where they build something real and compelling is the best way to attract young talent to the field.”

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Autonomous Car video from NWAPW
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Year 1 at NWAPW
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The NWAPW programme also received the Silver Award for the “Best Outreach Project” category at the AutoSens Awards 2018, as well as winning the “AutoSens Inspiration Award”. They were nominated by an AutoSens community member, who had this to say, “The NWAPW program has successfully used automotive related technologies to excite bright young programmers looking to explore computer science. Their innovative teaching methods have resulted in brilliant results and it is clear that the students truly understand the underlying science behind what they are doing. It has been exciting to see how engaged and happy the students are when given the right support to explore and have fun.”

AutoSens will bring you more student panels, helping to build connections between academia and industry, and inspire the next generation of engineers. We hope to see you there! Book your tickets here >> 

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