February 28, 2008

DEXTER, Case Western Reserve University's robotic car, to be inducted into Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum

Team Case's "DEXTER" finished in top 20 in the national DARPA Urban Challenge; ceremony to be held February 28


DEXTER, the autonomous vehicle which finished in the top 20 last fall in the United States Department of Defense's DARPA Urban Challenge robotic vehicle race in Victorville, Calif., will be inducted into the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum on Thursday, February 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the museum. It was the first time Case Western Reserve University had entered the contest that had 30 teams competing for a $2 million first prize.

On hand at the induction ceremony will be Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder; Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum Director Allan Unrein; Dean Norman C. Tien of the Case School of Engineering; Gainor Davis, president and CEO of the Western Reserve Historical Society; representatives of DEXTER's many sponsors, including ENSCO, Inc., a Falls Church, Va.-based engineering firm that donated DEXTER to the university, and other special guests.

While "Team Case," made up of more than 50 students and faculty at the Case School of Engineering, did not make the final race, team leader Wyatt Newman, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, said they were pleased to have done so well the first time they entered the competition.

"Of course we're disappointed we didn't make the finals," said Newman. "But to make it this far on our very first try is a terrific accomplishment. I couldn't be prouder that DEXTER is being inducted into the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. It's a great honor and a tribute to the hard work of our students and faculty on Team Case."

The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum is one of the top 10 automotive museums in the U.S. Nearly 200 unique, vintage and classic automobiles, airplanes and motorcycles are on display at the Western Reserve Historical Society.

"DEXTER is a wonderful specimen of automotive ingenuity created by the students at Case Western Reserve University, and we are thrilled to have it as the newest addition to the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum," said Unrein.

Through a partnership with ENSCO, Inc., Team Case modified DEXTER, the autonomous robot designed originally by ENSCO that placed 6th in the DARPA Desert Challenge in 2005. The car is a novel combination of a road-tested vehicle and sensors, paired with a biologically-inspired approach to environmental perception, humanistic driving instincts and vehicle control.

ENSCO has since donated the car to the university.

"We're grateful to ENSCO for its generosity and partnership with the university in positioning DEXTER to do so well at the DARPA Urban Challenge," Tien said. "We're also very excited that ENSCO has decided to donate the car to us permanently, giving DEXTER a prominent place in one of the country's finest museums such as the Crawford."

Using special software, DEXTER was taught to utilize human-inspired thinking to choose behaviors based on safe driving ability and legality. And in keeping with the university's emphasis on experiential learning, Newman said that the experience gained by Case students in such a labor-intensive project has carried many of the team members into their professional lives.

The Discovery Channel, which is airing a documentary on the DARPA Urban Challenge in March, covered Team Case extensively throughout the competition. Producers of the documentary said they felt Team Case was "the most compelling team" in the competition.

From one-of-a kind prototypes so rare they were never massed produced to, cars so ordinary in their day collecting them was nearly overlooked, the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum showcases rolling works of art, roadsters, touring cars, sports cars, classic cars, family cars, race cars, and more, and gives special emphasis to the 80 different manufacturers producing cars when Cleveland was the automotive center of the nation.

For more information contact Laura M. Massie, 216.368.4442.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, February 28, 2008 11:37 AM | News Topics: Case School of Engineering, Collaborations/Partnerships, Events, Faculty, HeadlinesMain, Provost Initiatives, Students, Technology

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