Rutgers IEEE Goes to the NY Maker Faire – Hack-A-Day

We were featured on Hack-A-Day at our most recent trip to the maker faire in NY Below is the post:

A few guys from Rutgers showed up at Maker Faire with Navi, their vehicle for the 2012 Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition. Powered by two huge lead acid batteries, Navi features enough high-end hardware to hopefully make it through or around just about any terrain.

Loaded up with a laser range finder, a stereo camera setup, compass, GPS receiver, and a pair of motors capable of pulling 40A, Navi has the all the hardware sensors required to make it around a track with no human intervention. Everything is controlled by a small netbook underneath the control panel, itself loaded up with enough switches and an 8×32 LED matrix to be utterly incomprehensible.

In the videos after the break, the guys from Rutgers show off the systems that went into Navi. There’s also a video showing off Navi’s suspension, an impressive custom-built wishbone setup that will hopefully keep Navi on an even keel throughout the competition.

Also of note: A PDF design report for Navi and Navi’s own blog.

Rutgers goes to IGVC

Rutgers IGVC Team

The Team

We spent the majority of the year preparing for this event. The machining was done from scratch with the use of the Industrial Engineering departments CNC Mill, we also fabricated custom pcb’s and placed them on the robot as well. In total the robot had a custom suspension, custom chassis, custom built i7 computer, Novatel ProPack-V3 Di erential GPS,  Hokuyo UTM-30LX Laser Range nder, 5 Sony Playstation Cameras, and a Sparkfun 9-DoF IMU.

Everything seemed to be fine with the robot in NJ however, when we arrived at the tent in Michigan things started to get a little weird. We never actually had time to fully test the robot with all of the software and components integrated into one piece so when we go to the competition we never expected we would have the kind of problems that we encountered.

In the original design for the robot we didn’t actually have a large shaft sticking out from the center of the robot, this design modification came from the fact that our gps antenna just so happened to be right above our computers power supply. The interesting thing about power supply’s is that they use large inductors to store energy, however even though that might be great for the computer, the magnetic field generated by this effect was not good for the gps antenna and basically blocked the antenna from receiving any signal at all. Bottom line we fixed the problem.

Our next biggest problem came about from our Sparkfun IMU, basically an IMU incorporates an accelerometer and a magnetometer / compass  all in one package. Although it seemed very nice online and even seemed to work well at Rutgers, ultimately it failed us at competition due to large amounts of interference. Next year we plan to have a much better compass.

It’s really hard to express how much time and effort goes into competing in an event such as this. Although we gave it our best shot if only we had one more day we would have been able to qualify.


I learned a lot in Michigan, probably more so than I have with my two years so far at Rutgers. I met people from across the country and even places across the world all because robotics brings large groups of people together all with similar interests. I look forward to going back next year!


IGVC: The Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition

I am helping with the designing, manufacturing, and programming of a robot to survive the great outdoors.  It will navigate obstacle courses, travel to landmarks, and wow judges with the awesome engineering know how used to  design it.  Our mechanical design has already materialized as a flexible system based around 8020 extrusion and water-jet machined aluminum.  Our software system will feature a cluster of laptops running the latest in research robotics software, ROS, and use computer vision to perceive the world.  This is to be our most challenging project yet, but we are making great progress.  We are set to have a driving chassis and testing platform before Thanksgiving.

Anyone who is interested in sponsoring the project can contact me at:

For more information on the project click here