AU team places second in autonomous lawnmower competition

Published: Jun 25, 2008 11:38:00 AM
Media Contact: , newsroom@eng.auburn.edu,

AU Robotic LawnmowerA team of Auburn Engineering students recently placed second at the fifth annual Robotic Lawnmower Competition, held June 5-7, in Dayton, Ohio. The Auburn team received a cash prize of $1,500 and an additional travel grant of $2,000 from the Institute of Navigation (ION). Organized by ION, the competition was sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Honeywell and ION's Satellite Division.

"We wanted our design to go above and beyond the typical projects done in the department... the chance of winning $15,000 didn't hurt either," said team member Jordan Britt. "We proposed this as our senior design because it was educational, from both a practical applications standpoint as well as learning to better work as a team with multiple disciplines. It was incredibly ambitious to try and complete it in one semester."

The challenge in the basic mowing competition was to develop an autonomous, unmanned lawnmower that could in twenty minutes mow a rectangular field of grass containing one stationary obstacle. Teams were scored on their performance in the mowing competition and on a technical report and presentation on their design.

The AU entry was constructed using a lawnmower donated by Briggs & Stratton and equipped with an array of sensors. Their mower was able to cut 50 percent of the grass in the rectangular field within the allotted time.

"This was our first 'outing' at the competition despite several years of being asked to participate," said Britt. "I think it is important for the team to do well so that the project will continue; it's easier to recruit students to a project that has already had a few successes."

Along with Britt, this year's student team members were Matt Blair, Joe Davis, Luke Edwards, Brandon Eidson, Tab McGill and Brooks Vinyard. Advisors were Calvin Cutshaw and Mark Nelms, both from electrical and computer engineering. The team was supported by the Wireless Engineering Research and Education Center and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.