Autonomous Vehicles at the UoL Festive Science Festival 2018

This is a guest post written by University of Leicester Computer Science student Pouria Toopchi:

This mini project was for the Festive Science Festival 2018 and the we displayed our autonomous cars to inspire the students that are in primary/secondary school and showed them why they should be interested in Computer Science as a career path. The autonomous vehicle we made was design using the Lego building blocks.

The first thing that we did was to design the car itself. This involved the group to find and come up with ideas of how the car should look like but also where the sensors would go so that it could be autonomous. To build the car successfully we had a plan ready so that we can follow the steps ensuring that they are a strong build and can work correctly with the sensors we put in place.

The next major step that our team did was to do the programming for the cars. We decided the best idea was to use a colour sensor that will move right if the surface is black and moves left if the surface is white. The main objective that was next was to make the cars have a sense of the surrounding. This meant that if the car was about 30cm near another object then it would stop and wait for the object to pass.

After that we finally designed the track for the cars to go around. This was using the colour dark and white logic; so, as you can see on the picture the track has a gradient. We, then decided a good idea to show the children examples of everyday problems for an autonomous vehicle which was to create an object in the way. So, in the picture you can see the reindeer. The purpose of this was to randomly block the cars path so they had to stop moving.

Finally, we would present this all to the children that would come in and explain what is going on and if they wanted to they could try and program one to do some different things.