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Issue 108

Bosch Future Mobility Challenge. 2021 edition new highlights

Dr. Ionuț Muntean
Senior Manager Innovation @ Centrul de Inginerie Bosch Cluj
PROGRAMMING

Bosch Future Mobility Challenge (BFMC) is an international student competition organized by Bosch Engineering Center Cluj that challenges teams of 2 to 5 students and a university mentor to demonstrate - after 6 months of development - the capabilities of the 1/10 scale vehicle provided by us, to navigate in a designated environment simulating a miniature smart city.

Through this competition, we want to introduce the students to the automotive and autonomous driving (AD) fields, to see the challenges and complexities that these two face.

More details can be found on the competition's website: https://www.boschfuturemobility.com/

How did the challenge evolve since its first edition in 2018? What new elements can be expected from BFMC 2021?

It first started as a local competition involving 12 teams from Cluj-Napoca. The 2019 edition was our first international step, when we accepted 24 teams from Romania and The Republic of Moldova. Last year, we accepted 42 teams coming from 5 European countries, introducing the contest in Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary. At the fourth edition, we grew even more, accepting 50 teams from 5 more countries (total of 10) including also Malta, Luxemburg, Greece, Estonia and Sweden.

For this year's edition, alongside the usual increase of the complexity of the track and its elements, we introduced two major new elements: a tool to help the students in the remote working conditions, which is a simulator, replica of the real environment and a partnership with IEEE-ITSS, with the purpose of raising the impact of the competition even more.

What makes this challenge attractive to the participants?

To all accepted teams, we offer a ready-to-use, already built car-kit platform, which includes all the low level code for the kit: steering and speed control, IMU interaction, camera plugin. The kit also includes a remote keyboard control, a camera streamer and a full documentation for the code (including empty modules and guides on how to create new packages).

Beside the kit documentation, suggested additional documentations are shared on different topics, such as: Linux, ROS, image processing, project management, hardware improvement, development boards, etc.

All participants are ensured with access to our online forum, where the team members can discuss with each other and eventually ask for support from the Bosch experts.

Every year, we try to include new smart city-like scenarios and components, such as V2X communication, localization system, smart traffic lights and all the necessary API's in order to interact with them. The traffic scenarios include a city zone, an uptown zone, highway, national road, parking spots, roundabout and others.

This project involves many technical aspects of autonomous driving, from sensing to vehicle control, from perception to hardware limitations, from API’s to state flow control. All those ranges guide students to create multidisciplinary teams, it allows them to focus on the aspects that they think are most important and most fit for their case, and it helps them learn how to work in teams, distribute tasks, create an architecture and communicate. Through this competition, alongside the attraction of the offered prizes, the students have the chance to see the result of their effort come to life, run the developed car on a real track and present their projects in front of an international jury committee, formed by experts and leaders from the domain and from the academia. Besides, the students enjoy the recognition of their efforts through the local visibility (their universities, family, friends, work environment and so on).

We know that the first impression is important, so, at the competition finale, we want to offer a unique experience for every participant, with that thought in mind we are trying to make everything as fun as possible while the students are enjoying the facilities of Bosch Engineering Center Cluj.

What impact of the competition did we observe so far?

The competition encourages students from various domains and levels to apply and try to take part of it. We have applicants ranging from high school level up to master's degree level, coming from various fields such as electrical engineering, automation, computer science, mechatronics, mechanical engineering and so on. We think that this is because we are improving and transforming the competition, continuously adapting it to the lessons that we had learned in the previous years.

We are very happy that after four years, the competition has a major impact in the academic environment: professors and students from several universities have created new research groups based on the competition requirements; students are using the knowledge gained in the competition or the hardware to create their final thesis or research papers; ex participants who are now doing their PhD are coordinating new teams; universities adapt their courses/laboratories based on the competition's theme; participants are invited to teach lectures; presentations of the activities on the car are shown at designated technical events. Furthermore, many of the participants have grown to like and find their vocation in the AD field, some of them even becoming our colleagues at Bosch.

What are our plans for the future?

For sure we will meet again at BFMC 2022, where we will surprise you with new highlights. We plan to keep growing, to spark interest for autonomous driving in new students, help create communities both locally and internationally, strengthen our IEEE-ITSS partnership and inspire students to find new and innovative solutions in their work.

Starting from June, we will launch the regular voting campaign, so you can vote for your preferred teams on www.boschfuturemobility.com/thechallenge, and later, check their performance at the competition finale that will take place on the 11th of July 2021 on live channels.

VIDEO: ISSUE 97 LAUNCH EVENT

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