Self-driving cars from Greenwich to Vietnam


How do you programme a car to drive by itself with AI technology? This was the question three students at the University of Greenwich had to answer when they entered the Digital Race Finale in Vietnam last month.

After battling past theMadalin Preda 115 teams, they became one of only two non-Vietnamese teams competing in the final 10, despite none of them having worked with self-driving cars before.

The robotic car was shipped from Vietnam to Greenwich and the team were given four weeks to work on it before flying out for the contest. After another week of intensive work in Vietnam, they eventually placed 7th overall in the final, which was televised nationally.

Year 3 Computer Science student Sameet Sidhu said:

"I'd definitely recommend it to any student with an interest in self driving cars as it gives you a chance to gain hands on experience solving real world practical problems.

"The staff at the University and the competition were extremely supportive and we were made to feel welcome throughout our time in Vietnam."

In order to prepare for the contest, the university supported the team in research involving ROS (Robot Operating System open source), sensor data and image processing and recognition for lane and obstacle detection, car localisation using Bluetooth beacons.

Meantime (the university team) was made up of Sameet Sindhu (year 3 BSc (Hons) Computer Science), Madalin Preda (year 2 BSc (Hons) Computer Science), Claire Stretch (Year 1 BEng (Hons) Software Engineering) and team supervisor Dr Tuan Vuong (Lecturer in Computer Science, School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences).

The competition itself takes place annually and is hosted by FPT Corporation Vietnam. It aims to aid students in researching and learning about driverless car technology and to help equip them with the required skills to work in the industry in the future. Winners receive 1 billion VND (around £33,000), PhD scholarships and a visit to Google, Tesla and some other companies in the Silicon Valley.

The School of Computing and Mathematical Science at Greenwich offer courses in Machine Learning, including the skills required for the competition.

You can find out more at the upcoming university Open Day.