Skip to main content

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Rensselaer “Rock Raiders” Rover Competes at Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition

Rensselaer “Rock Raiders” Rover Competes at Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition

By Mary L. Martialay

June 27, 2019

A rover built by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students took third place in the Design Competition at the 27th annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), and won the Rookie of the Year award. The Rensselaer Rock Raiders team includes students from the School of Science and School of Engineering, and has been competing since 2014, when the team entered the NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge.

“The team built a rover, put sensors on it, and wrote code for this rover to find its way from point A to point B, going around obstacles and staying on the course until they reach a goal. It’s an incredible challenge,” said Glenn Saunders, team adviser and a senior research engineer with the Rensselaer Center for Automation Technologies and Systems. “The students truly work as a team, bringing together all the knowledge they’ve gained from their studies and apply that to a far more difficult problem than they’ve seen in the classroom.”

The IGVC, which was held June 7-10 at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, includes three challenges: Auto-Nav Challenge, Design Competition, and Interoperability Profiles Challenge. Rensselaer completed in design and auto-nav.

The Design Competition is judged based on the design strategy and process that engineering teams follow to produce their vehicles. Design innovation (both hardware and software) is a primary objective of this competition and is given special attention by the judges.

“They did exceptionally well, scoring very high on the written report and their presentation,” Saunders said.

In the Auto-Nav Challenge, a fully autonomous unmanned ground robotic vehicle must negotiate around an outdoor obstacle course under a prescribed time while maintaining a prescribed minimum and maximum speed, remaining within the lanes and navigation around obstacles on the course.

“The parameters of this competition were different from what they’ve faced before, and they tore down the rover they had been developing, rebuilt and reconfigured it in just four months, and were still able to qualify for the competition,” Saunders said. “They did better than some of the veteran teams and it’s an accomplishment for them to have done as well as they did.”

This year’s team included Connor McGowan, David Michelman, Ruiji Geng, Sam Ansaldo, Nishka Rao,

Adhikara Budhyhartono, Johnathan Corbin, Shu-Nong Wu, and Siddharth Suri. The Rock Raiders Rover team is supported by the School of Engineering, School of Science, and the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering.


Reeve Hamilton
Director of Media Relations and Communications

(518) 833-4277

For general inquiries:

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.