INI student joins Roborace Autonomous Racing Championship
The race to accelerate the future of AI cars has begun.
By Jessica Shirley
Kartik Chaudhari is working to accelerate the rise of AI in vehicles and transportation. The bicoastal mobility student is part of a team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) that is competing in the upcoming season of Roborace, an international competition involving autonomous, electrically-powered vehicles.
“We are working on a system for completely autonomous racing at more than 250+ kmph,” said Chaudhari. “The most important part for me is the happiness of working on a problem I really like and contributing towards the autonomous vehicle revolution.”
“The most important part for me is the happiness of working on a problem I really like and contributing towards the autonomous vehicle revolution.”
Roborace is the world's first racing series for autonomous driving. Teams develop AI driver software to control steering, acceleration, brakes and more using onboard tech like radars and cameras to navigate the course. The hope is that technology developed for the racetrack could one day end up on the roads.
A Need for Speed
It’s not Chaudhari’s first brush with high speeds and autonomous tech. During his undergraduate program at the College of Engineering Pune, he co-led a team in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. They worked on levitating a Hyperloop pod capable of pushing more than 300 mph in a vacuum setting, and were among the top qualifiers out of more than 1,600 teams.
His Hyperloop experience combined with a love for speed and racing is what first drew him to Roborace. As a mobility student, Chaudhari brings machine learning and engineering perspectives to his team, which consists of mostly students and alumni from the Language Technologies Institute (LTI) and Robotics Institute.
“I believe the greatest advantage of the team is diversity in thought and the ability to gel well. This is extremely important while you're working on a difficult, open-ended and competitive environment,” he said. “The overall experience has been very exciting...we learn a lot every day, and not only theoretically, but also practically.”
Finding New Problems to Solve
On the first day of orientation at the INI, Chaudari took Professor Pei Zhang’s advice to heart: graduate degrees are about "finding new problems to solve, rather than the undergrad way of learning to solve new problems."
"Finding new problems to solve, rather than the undergrad way of learning to solve new problems.”
“These are words that really stuck with me. CMU is a place where we have more opportunities than we could ever possibly take up, right outside the spectrum of courses. They move far beyond classroom learning in terms of exposure, skill and practical knowledge,” said Chaudari.
Through the INI’s flexible curriculum, Chaudari says he’s been able to explore, build skills and push his limits. With Roborace, he puts what he learns in courses into action on the racetrack.
The CMU team will join five other organizations from the UK, Italy, Switzerland and Austria competing in the 12 championship rounds of the 2020-2021 series.
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