Technion puts students in the driving seat for autonomous vehicles

For years, self-driving cars have been seen as the next big step in the evolution of the vehicle industry. Tesla, one of the world’s biggest companies, offers limited autonomous driving for its cars, but its cutting-edge vehicles are outside the price range of the majority of consumers.

With progress hampered by both technological challenges and safety concerns, it seems that driverless cars are still a long way away from mass adoption.
Students from around the world are working to change this however – with a little help from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology.

Every year the prestigious university holds the Nadav Shoham Robotraffic contest, open to teams of students across the world. This year the competition had to be held virtually due to the pandemic, but this didn’t stop teams from 10 different countries submitting their entries.
Students enter robot vehicles designed especially for the competition. These robots include sensors for analysing the conditions around them and modifying their behavior in response – key features of any successful autonomous car. While simple self-piloting robots are already used in the real world, the environments they operate in are considerably less complex than the one these students are attempting to master: the everyday traffic system.

With this in mind, students taking part in the competition are assessed in several different categories that each relate to how cars actually operate on our roads. These categories include “Careful Driving,” “Traffic safety initiatives, ”and even “Reverse Parking.” The winning team of the Careful Driving category will even have the chance to develop their ideas, as all the students won a full one-year scholarship to Technion International’s undergraduate degree programme.

The Nadav Shoham Robotraffic competition is just one example of Technion’s commitment to technological progress. Since 1912, the academic institution has been at the forefront of spearheading Israel’s scientific endeavours. Israel today is the country with the highest percentage of scientists and engineers – and the majority of them studied at the Technion, home to three of Israel’s five science Nobel Laureates.

Alan Aziz, CEO of Technion UK, commented: “For over a decade the Robotraffic contest has put students across the world in the driving seat when it comes designing autonomous vehicles. When future generations are being chauffeured around by driverless cards, the chances are that they will have the Technion to thank for it.”

Notes to editor about Technion:

The Technion has earned a global reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, life sciences, stem-cell technology, water management, sustainable energy, information technology, biotechnology, materials engineering and aerospace. It is also one of only five similar institutes worldwide that include a medical school, encouraging rapid progress in biotechnology, drug development, and stem-cell technology. As Israel’s centre for high-tech education and research, the Technion is central to the nation’s economic progress. As the premier institute of its kind in the region, Technion breakthroughs can benefit all the nations of the Middle East. As a worldclass research university, the Technion helps advance the frontiers of science and technology to benefit people around the world.