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DTU Roadrunners: How Autonomous Vehicles Work

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DTU Roadrunners, a team of innovative students from the Technical University of Denmark, have developed a vehicle that is not only successful in achieving serious mileage on the track, but pushes the boundaries of innovation with sophisticated autonomous features enabling their car to drive independently.

Gustav Brønd, Lead Electronics Designer of this Danish team, introduces the concept of self-driving vehicles and explains more on their vehicle including the benefit of the sensors and software that enables the car to map out its surroundings to navigate through obstacles on the road.

Sounds futuristic, right? Well autonomous vehicles are here! Gustav and his team believe that autonomous vehicles (AV) complemented with human driving skills can eventually make roads much safer for everyone.

Watch the video below to learn more.

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The reason why I think autonomy is important for the future of vehicles is mainly safety.

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Meet Gustav from DTU Roadrunners

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Title: Shell Eco-marathon 2022 DTU Roadrunners
Duration: 03:25
Description: Shell Eco-marathon 2022 DTU Roadrunners Team – Accessibility Transcript

[Video footage]
Opens with Gustav, full frame.

Gustav:
If I have to describe DTU Roadrunners in three words, it would be innovative, hardworking, and fun.

[Text displays]
Innovative
Hardworking
Fun

[Video footage]
Cuts to shots of team members cheering next to vehicle.

[Text displays]
DTU Roadrunners
Technical University of Denmark

VO Gustav:
We are DTU Roadrunners from the technical university of Denmark in Denmark.

[Video footage]
Cuts to shot of vehicle being viewed on a tablet, before cutting back to Gustav.

[Text displays – name strap]
Gustav Brønd
Lead Electronics Designer

Gustav:
One of the really great things about Shell Eco-marathon is the collaborative spirit. Even though it's a competition, we still share ideas with each other and share spare parts if we're missing anything.

[Video footage]
Cuts to shot of team members rolling vehicle on track, before cutting back to Gustav.

Gustav:
I think our vehicle design is pushing the boundaries of innovation.

[Video footage]
Cuts to shot of vehicle running on track, before cutting back to Gustav.

Gustav:
Besides having a good mileage, our car also has autonomous capabilities.

[Text displays]
Autonomous capabilities

Gustav:
If you mount motors and a sensor on it, it can detect, uh, the road and navigate the road…

[Video footage]
Cuts to shot of vehicle rolling on track, before cutting back to Gustav.

Gustav:
And, in a controlled environment, of course, like a racetrack, it can, uh, avoid obstacles on the road and it can detect parking spots and park inside of them.

Gustav:
Basically, the way our autonomous system works from start to finish is that we have a Lidar sensor mounted on top of the car…

[Video footage]
Cuts to shots of lidar sensor on vehicle, before cutting back to Gustav.

[Text displays]
Lidar sensor

Gustav:
… which takes in the environment and makes a 3d map.

[Text displays]
3D map

Gustav:
It's similar to how a bat uses echolocation.

[Video footage]
Cuts to monitor displaying 3D map. The camera then pans to the team members using the system.

VO Gustav:
So it sends out signals and it gets back a bunch of distances, using the difference of distances we can make a texture map of our surroundings.

[Video footage]
Cuts back to Gustav.

Gustav:
Once the Lidar has made a 3d map that information is fed to our main computer. It, uh, processes it and calculates the safest path we can take.

[Video footage]
Cuts to shot of vehicle rolling on track, before cutting back to Gustav.

Gustav:
And that PC that also gets an estimate of where the car is positioned, which is calculated by using a gyroscope and GPS and how much are the wheels on the car turning.

[Video footage]
Cuts to shot of car rolling on track.

[Text displays]
Gyroscope
And GPS

[Video footage]
Cuts back to Gustav.

Gustav:
Based on the car's location and the route we want to go, the computer then tells a stepper(?) motor how to steer the steering wheel into position…

[Video footage]
Cuts to shot of steering wheel, before cutting back to Gustav.

Gustav:
… using something called inverse kinematics, where you calculate how much should we steer according to where we want to go.

[Text displays]
Inverse kinematics

[Video footage]
Cuts to split screen of vehicle and Gustav.

Gustav:
And then we turn on the engine autonomously with our onboard computer.

[Video footage]
Cuts to shots of motherboard and vehicle running on track, before cutting back to Gustav.

Gustav:
The reason why I think autonomy is important for the future of, uh, vehicles. It's mainly safety.

[Text displays]
Safety

[Video footage]
Cuts to montage shots of vehicle running on track, before cutting back to Gustav.

Gustav:
Humans make a lot of mistakes when they drive. It's hard to pay attention at all times, but not for a computer.

[Video footage]
Cuts to shot of team member rilling vehicle outside of garage, before cutting back to Gustav.

Gustav:
They don't get tired. Already right now, you have stuff like cruise control, keeping in lines, uh, keeping certain distance from cars in front of you. All of this helps save life.

[Video displays]
Cuts to shots of team member working on vehicle in garage and vehicle running on track.

VO Gustav:
But if you can somehow get to the same level of awareness as a person with a computer, you could save so many lives on the road.

Gustav:
You could get better infrastructure…

[Text displays]
Better Infrastructure

[Video footage]
Cuts to shot of team celebrating.

VO Gustav:
… more optimised societies. And, um, I think the world would be a better place for that.

[Video footage]
Cuts back to Gustav.

Gustav:
Don't forget to like, comment and share, and follow hashtag Shell Eco-marathon for more.

[Text displays]
#ShellEcoMarathon

[Shell endboard with logo]
#ShellEcoMarathon
Follow for more
© SHELL INTERNATIONAL 2022

 

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