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Pitt ECE Alumni Organize Indy Autonomous Challenge Entry

Reposted with permission from Robotics Institute Summer Scholars. Original story here.


Two members of the RISS Alumni Share Their Latest Robotics Project & Invite Your Participation

Led by a group of motivated CMU Masters in Robotics students (MSR) and RI Summer Scholars (RISS) alumni, Panther AV RAS-ing is the University of Pittsburgh’s entry, a city-wide effort with virtual partners beyond our region’s borders,  in the Indy Autonomous Challenge, a competition devoted to developing software for an autonomous high-speed Indy car. We hope that by participating in this challenge, we can bring more people into the Pittsburgh robotics community.

Our team is led by Nayana Suvarna, Josh Spisak, and Andrew Saba. Nayana, the University of Pittsburgh’s Robotics & Automation Society (RAS) President and a RISS 2020 Scholar, is the project lead and manages the project. Andrew, a former RAS officer, RISS 2019 Scholar, and future MSR student, provides technical mentorship to team members. Josh, an MSR student, also helps mentor the project technically. Relying on their experiences making robots at CMU and in RAS, our leaders believe our team is uniquely qualified to win this challenge, while also recognizing the importance of fostering robotics at Pitt and elsewhere.

As part of the Indy Autonomous Challenge, our algorithms will be deployed on an Indy race car traveling over 120 mph on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021. This isn’t a single car race; instead, we will be racing head to head against other vehicles from schools such as MITTUMETH, and others. We feel that this competition will spark a greater interest in robotics at the University of Pittsburgh. We value participation for anyone and everyone, including those working remotely due to COVID, and students who may not have access to universities with dedicated robotics programs.

There are many areas in which our team is skilled, including autonomous unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, SLAM and localization, motion planning and controls, perception, systems development, multi-agent systems, and fast aerial-flight. Our members developed this experience while participating in RAS projects such as the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC), which won first place at the American Venue in 2017 and 2018. Our members have also worked on many competitions at CMU, such as the DARPA Subterranean ChallengeMBZIRC, and AlphaPilot.

In pursuing this challenge we are following in the footsteps of RAS alumni who have gone on to top-tier graduate schools, including CMU, UC Berkeley, University of Maryland, and the University of Pittsburgh. In addition, our members and alumni, including our team leads and mentors, have worked at cutting-edge robotics companies including Uber ATGArgo AIAurora InnovationsCarnegie RoboticsIAMRoboticsNear Earth AutonomyNeya SystemsRE2Four GrowersRedzone Robotics, and Gecko Robotics, among many others. We are looking forward to continuing to lay the groundwork for our future endeavors, expanding our experience into the realm of high-speed vehicles, and bringing robotics to as many people as possible.

Pushing the frontier of self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence is not an easy task. Bringing our car over the finish line will take the support of many passionate roboticists and sponsors. 

Join the mission and bring autonomous high-speed head-to-head racing to Pittsburgh! In the age of Covid-19, there are many opportunities to contribute remotely or socially distanced. Technical expertise, communications, media, and sponsors are key to building, communicating, and supporting this journey. 

Connect with us and contribute your skills and resources to drive Pittsburgh autonomous racing to success! Reach out to us (Nayana Suvarna, Josh Spisak, or Andrew Saba) at [nsuvarna, jspisak, asaba]@andrew.cmu.edu.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Contact: Maggie Pavlick