NXP Cup: Students Build and Race Autonomous Model Cars

NXP Cup: Students Build and Race Autonomous Model Cars

Electronics systems are behind 90% of today’s vehicle innovations. Industry advancements in autonomy, electrification and connectivity will only further increase the electronics content. As a result, our cars are becoming more complex, and it’s forcing automakers to change the way they are architected.

Automotive engineers, software designers and car architects agree that the modern vehicle innovation process requires design experience and team collaboration to ensure that every car is safe, secure and runs flawlessly.

For many university students and recent graduates, however, finding an opportunity to gain hands-on experience can be a challenge all on its own.

Real-world experience: Code, test, debug and deploy
Last week, I attended the NXP Cup finals in Germany. It was a great opportunity to gain perspectives from many of the university students and professors who coached them. Overall, more than 110 student teams from as far as Morocco participated in the NXP Cup, which was sponsored by Arm, Elektor, MathWorks and Mouser.

Months in advance of the competition, each team built an autonomous model car using the base components from NXP that you’d find in a modern vehicle, including controllers, sensors and motor drive electronics. They used industry-standard tools like MATLAB and Simulink to employ model-based design workflows. They learned hardware design and software coding, getting exposure to real-world concepts like driver replacement and connectivity.

They rolled up their sleeves and coded, tested, debugged and deployed. And, like any carmaker, collaboration and team work were critical to their development. During each trial along the design path, they learned what it takes to build a reliable autonomous model car that was fast and stable – as a team.

After the cars were built, rounds of competitions were held across Europe and North Africa. During each leg of the competition, the teams raced their cars for fastest time running on a track of curves, intersections, hills, bumpy roads and straights that simulated a real-world road experience –the fastest without derailing won. The races culminated at the final NXP Cup at Fraunhofer IIS Erlangen, which brought together 17 universities.

Competition was separated into two groups. Some used the tried-and-tested Model C. Other teams used the new Alamak model, which is replacing the Model C. The Alamak features a powerful motor and a unibody chassis that allows more control. It has a new enhanced motor control board and a power board that offers preset inputs for encoders, multiple cameras and wireless Bluetooth. The new motor control board has been developed with full integration features, allowing it to be mounted directly with the power board and the Freedom board.

Regardless of the model used, both tracks of competitors learned how to assemble and program their cars to run the track – skills that would have been difficult to master in a textbook-only classroom!

The real race has just begun

The race to innovate safe, efficient cars starts with an understanding of how technology works, and that’s what the NXP Cup offers students. Furthermore, future engineers learn in a collaborative environment, gaining necessary skills that will help them in their careers long after they’ve graduated from university.

Congratulations to all of the participating teams!

Winners of the 9 Teams using the traditional Model C
1st place: Team Koala racer (University Landshut, Germany) with a time of 0:22.49 sec
2nd place: The K-Team (Institute of Technology Deggendorf, Germany) with a time of 0:31.27 sec
3rd place: Team Mac (University Mundiapolis, Morocco) with a time of 0:37.04 sec

Winners of the 6 Teams using the new Model Alamak
1st place: Team FasTech (University of Craiova, Romania) with a time of 0:26.81 sec
2nd place: Team Athlos (University West Attica, Greece) with a time of 0:30.47 sec
3rd place: Team ACDT (Technincal University of Iasi, Romania) with a time of 0:30.94 sec

We also had two high school teams participate: Team Spirit (Stredna priemyselna skola elektrotechnicka Piestany, Slovakia), Team Prima (Stredna priemyselna skola elektrotechnicka Piestany, Slovakia)

See more on the 2018 NXP Cup in EMEA

Replay NXP Cup EMEA finals via Fraunhofer YouTube Channel

Article: NXP Cup of self-driving model cars

Article: Morocco qualifies for NXP Cup Final for autonomous cars in Germany

Lars Reger
Lars Reger
Lars Reger, Senior Vice President, is Chief Technology Officer at NXP Semiconductors. As CTO, Lars is responsible for managing new business activities and R&D in the focus markets of Automotive, Industry 4.0., Internet of Things, Mobile, and Connectivity & Infrastructure. NXP has the broadest processor portfolio for the Internet of Things and is the world's largest chip supplier to the automotive industry. NXP and its global team of experts drive the development of autonomous, securely connected vehicles and accelerate the introduction of smart and securely connected devices for the Internet of Things through its outstanding edge computing expertise. Before joining NXP, Lars gained deep insight into the microelectronics industry with a focus on the automotive sector. He began his career with Siemens Semiconductors as Product Engineer in 1997. His past roles at Infineon included Head of the Process and Product Engineering departments, Project Manager for Mobile System Chips, and Director of IP Management. Prior to joining NXP as CTO of the automotive division in 2008, he was responsible for business development and product management within the Connectivity Business Unit at Continental. In December 2018 Lars was appointed CTO and has since then been responsible for the overall technology portfolio of NXP.

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