SU Students Place Second in Robotic Lawn Mower Competition
A team of four Syracuse University students took second place in the static competition at the “9th Annual ION Robotic Lawn Mower Competition.”
Andrew Cash, Chris Budwey, David Perra and Minghao Ruan created the Syracuse University Autonomous Mower (SUMo) as a part of their Senior Design Project. The competition was to determine who could successfully cut the most lawn, while avoiding obstacles and staying within boundaries. Their prize is $1,500 which will be split between the team members.
The Syracuse University mower is a self-contained, unmanned, autonomous lawnmower which uses the various on-board sensors and cameras to navigate a predefined mowing region. SUMo is an intricate combination of complex mechanical, electrical, and software designs.
The SUMo was signifigantly less expensive than the Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) systems and directional GPS used by the ten other groups. Parts on the SUMo were less than $3,000 while the next cheapest was over $10,000 and the most expensive over $50,000.
“We are very proud of the fact that we were able to compete with these much more expensive mowers, and with groups that have had past experience,” said Andrew Cash.
In addition to second place in the static competition, the team received two “gag” awards. One was for the zero-turn radius, a product of the four wheel drive system on their mower. The second was for the appearance of their mower, which Andrew described as “a heavily modified PC.”
Cal State Fullerton won first place in the static competition.
“We lost to a team that used directional GPS and LIDAR systems, which had a cost of over $40,000 and 3 years of experience,” said Andrew Cash. “So, there was no shame in losing to them.”
The goal of the SUMo is to provide an affordable autonomous lawn mowing system to the consumer realm, specifically targeting the handicapped, the elderly and those who have a need. SUMo transforms a previously unaffordable technology into something that is economic, practical and consumer friendly. The challenge they face is outfitting a computer to complete the same task a person does when mowing, through the use of several sensors and carefully crafted algorithms.
The SUMo is currently designed to handle static obstacles, but maintains the complexity to be extended to more challenging tasks, such as dynamic obstacle avoidance. The group hopes that next year a new team will take on the project and refine what they have accomplished.
“We would like to give a special thanks to Dr. Duane Marcy and Professor William Tetley for their technical assistance,” said Andrew Cash. “We’re especially grateful for the support from Blue Highway and L.C. Smith.”
Demo of SUMo http://www.youtube.com/user/SumoRobotics?feature=watch
Annual ION Robotic Lawn Mower Competition Webpage http://robomow.ion.org/
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