Bosch Future Mobility Challenge is an international technical competition organized by Engineering Center Cluj. Teams of students from various countries and different fields of study in the areas of IT and engineering, compete against each other in order to make the best 1:10 scale autonomous vehicle, capable of navigating in a dedicated environment, simulating a city. The organizing team modifies the environment from edition to edition through the addition of more realistic “obstacles”. Each accepted team receives a car kit and participation prizes at the competition finals. All the kits were made available through the sponsorship of our collaborators of the challenge: IPCEI and Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie(German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy). The best three teams from the challenge are awarded with the winners’ prizes.
At the beginning of the ongoing, third edition, there were 42 teams, coming from five different countries, compared to the previous year, when we had 24 teams from two countries. Many things have changed since the past edition, and the new challenges that the students will have to pass in order to demonstrate themselves worthy of the prizes are: the recognition of 2 new traffic signs (pedestrian and priority) added to the 2 already existing ones (parking and stop), smart traffic lights, a static obstacle (another vehicle identical to theirs) and processing information from an in-house developed camera based GPS system. Another new requirement is a speed test, where they have to ignore every traffic sign and get to the finish line as fast as possible. The other big factor that has changed from last year’s competition is the prize pool for the winners, which is now given in money equal to 9000€ compared to past editions, when the winning teams were offered visits to automotive events and factories and participated in driving courses both in Romania an abroad.
Each participating team received a Bosch Sensortec BNO055 smart sensor, so the students faced another task, that being: the freedom to choose one implementation of the IMU sensor in the car and impress the audience and the jury with it. For the teams who will manage to do that, they will get an extra special prize from the organizers.
The last big change our contest suffered was the introduction of an elimination round, which was supposed to take place from 30 March to 10 April. In this event, every team was supposed to come to our location and demonstrate, after a day of testing in our environment that their cars are capable of following the track and recognizing the traffic signs. Due to the global pandemic, this test was not possible in a physical format, thus we chose to move it online, in order to keep the students working and interested.
The teams had different options to choose from regarding how they were going to pass this test, from virtual simulations to creating pieces of tracks built inside their houses. Of course, working within socially distanced teams was difficult and this forced some contestants to give up, but the results were surprisingly good, and 18 teams participated at the elimination round. We are happy to announce that all of them passed, impressing us with their spectacular results, creativity and devotion. The final challenge, originally scheduled to take place on 17th of May, was due to the COVID-19 prevention measures and restrictions, organized to take place on 18th of October as part of the Bosch Future Mobility Day.
Personally, it is a great experience and challenge to move behind the scene of Bosch Future Mobility Challenge: from an ex winner of the competition to one of the main organizers. As a competitor, there are many aspects about the organizational factors you do not see, small things and details that you normally take for granted or about which you are not aware. On the other hand, as an organizer, you see how challenging it can be to switch from a corporate point of view to a student-professor relation point of view or to work with small, external companies. Either way, every side has its own good and bad facets, but in the end, with passion and time, everything pays off.