MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2017

RACECAR: Rapid Autonomous Complex-Environment Competing Ackermann-Steering Robot

Sertac Karaman, Professor, Aero/Astro, Michael Boulet, Ken Gregson, Owen Guldner

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/02
Limited to 30 participants
Attendance: Participants must attend all sessions
Prereq: see description

Modern robots tend to operate at slow speeds in complex environments, limiting their utility in high-tempo applications. In this course you will push the boundaries of unmanned vehicle speed. Teams of 4-5 will develop dynamic autonomy software to race an RC car equipped with LIDAR, cameras, inertial sensors, and embedded processing around a large-scale, “real-world” course. Working from a baseline autonomy stack, teams will modify the software to increase platform velocity to the limits of stability. The course culminates with a timed competition to navigate the MIT tunnels. Classes will provide lectures on algorithms and lab time with instructor-assisted development. Must attend every class and plan on 6-10 hr/week of self-directed development.

Prereqs: Advanced undergraduates and graduates with some background in controls or robotics. Majors include AeroAstro, Mechanical, Ocean, and EECS. Students with a background in computer science with interest in robotics and controls may also effectively participate. Must have experience with software development. Past exposure to robotics algorithms and/or embedded programming will be useful. Email with a brief description of your programming/robotics experience.

*This work is sponsored by the Dept. of the Air Force under Contract FA8721-05-C-0002.  Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the U.S. Government.

Sponsor(s): Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Lincoln Laboratory, MIT-SUTD Collaboration
Contact: Owen Guldner,

Jan/09 Mon 01:00PM-05:00PM 32-081
Jan/11 Wed 01:00PM-05:00PM 32-081
Jan/13 Fri 01:00PM-05:00PM 32-081
Jan/18 Wed 01:00PM-05:00PM 32-081
Jan/20 Fri 01:00PM-05:00PM 32-081

Students should be prepared to put in significant time outside of scheduled class hours (approx. 6-10 hours each week)