SparkFun’s Autonomous Vehicle Competition Grows to Third Largest Self-Driving Car Race Globally

SparkFun AVC 2017, an event that includes a combat robotics tournament and an autonomous vehicle race, will welcome nearly 200 teams to Denver, Colo., on October 14 & 15, 2017.

With over 120 combat robot teams and the inclusion of 12-lb and 30-lb robots for the first time, the tournament has grown 400 percent from 2016. Classic AVC, the autonomous vehicle portion of the event, enters its ninth year with over 60 teams participating.

“We’re excited to bring an event of this size to the western states,” said Casey Kuhns, tournament manager for SparkFun and former competitor on ABC’s Battle Bots television show. “Clearly there’s a growing demand for opportunities for students and adults to build their own robots and find a community that supports them.”

SparkFun AVC 2017 will be held for the first time at Maker Faire Denver after eight years in SparkFun’s hometown of Boulder, Colo. Autonomous vehicle teams will be asked to run a course similar to that in years past, with variations on obstacle types and objectives designed to challenge teams to develop DIY technology that mimics real-world conditions for autonomous vehicles. The autonomous race event has attracted over 60 adult and student teams, with robots from some of the country’s top engineering schools, including Georgia Tech, Utah State University, University of California San Diego and the Colorado School of Mines.

“When we moved SparkFun AVC 2017 to Maker Faire Denver, we hoped to unite the Rocky Mountain maker community in one celebration of DIY innovation and creativity,” said Glenn Samala, SparkFun CEO. “We at SparkFun feel honored by the privilege of providing a space for all our makers and competitors to come together and compete.”

In addition to the move to Maker Faire Denver, SparkFun AVC 2017 marks the first time the event has been opened up to corporate sponsors. As the exclusive pro-maker sponsor, Digi-Key Electronics will be on site to award two special prizes: Engineers’ Choice and the Crowd Pleaser. Wurth Electronics, a supporting co-sponsor, will be providing a workspace in the competitor pits area, stocked with extra tools and supplies for any teams needing to make last-minute repairs to their robots. Aleph Objects (Lulzbot) has provided 16 Lulzbot Mini 3D Printers to award to winners of the student team divisions.


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