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Twelve Autonomous Model Cars for Universities in Mexico

News from Aug 08, 2016

Freie Universität Berlin Cooperates with Mexican Universities as Part of the Mexican-German Year

The Institute of Computer Science at Freie Universität Berlin developed twelve autonomous model cars for scientists in Mexico. The programming, turnover, and training were funded by the Mexican-German Year. At Freie Universität Berlin the project was headed by Prof. Dr. Raúl Rojas, a professor of artificial intelligence. Prof. Dr. Enrique Fernandez Fassnacht, the president of the largest technical university in Latin America, the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), presented the cars to the selected universities. Altogether twelve so-called "AutoNOMOS Mini" cars were produced at a scale of 1 to 10. Another part of the project was a seminar that was offered in July for students in the appropriate robotics groups in Mexico City. Three computer scientists from Freie Universität taught 46 Mexican students how to program the robots and explained the structure of the hardware. To conclude the project, two indoor races will be held with the autonomous model cars. The costs of this initiative were covered by the funds set aside for implementing the dual year, which is being administered by the Germany Embassy in Mexico and the Goethe Institute in Munich.

The Mexico-Germany Year was inaugurated in June during a visit by German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Mexico City. A number of exhibitions, concerts, conferences, and other events with respect to the two countries will take place in both Mexico and Germany until mid-2017. Freie Universität Berlin is contributing through its involvement in the AutoNOMOS Mini project.

The project is an innovative training project. Each model vehicle carries a computer, a laser scanner as a distance sensor, a three-dimensional video camera for the detection of obstacles, and a camera for simulating a GPS sensor. The control computer of the car can read all these data and thus drive the vehicle automatically.

"The advantage of such model vehicles compared with real prototypes is the low cost," says Professor Raúl Rojas. But "AutoNOMOS Mini" is also a development platform, and the software could ultimately be transferred to real vehicles. "We aim to develop the model vehicles to function as similarly as possible to real vehicles, so that the students trained with them can easily be hired in the automotive industry.”

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