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Robo Racers

May 6, 2014

COVENTRY — A University of Rhode Island student, who is part of an engineering team, just returned from a national intelligent car championship. The team’s next stop? South Korea.

Cory Jalbert and his two teammates, David Cipoletta of Chepachet and Geoffrey McElroy of Lincoln, all computer engineers, built a model racecar which stands about a foot tall and uses camera software programmed by the students to zip along a race track without human intervention.

Their car completed a competition course in 17.7 seconds, faster than 27 other teams, at the annual Freescale Cup in Rochester, NY on April 19.

The three will head to South Korea on August 28 to compete with 19 teams from around the world.

“Even if the track had been constantly changing, the car would have been able to adapt and handle it,” Jalbert, who is team captain, said.
“It’s amazing,” said McEroy. “I was so excited when we won. I can’t believe I’m going to Korea. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.”

“This is a good way to inspire students to do the real design,” Dr. Yang, their professor, said. “The best way to learn is by doing.”
Jalbert has been interested in engineering and building electronic things all his life and competed in middle and high school.
“I remember being 4 years old at a Lego competition with my grandfather and just looking around in awe, not really sure of what I was seeing but I knew it looked cool,” Jalbert said.

He described the April competition as a little nerve-wracking because as the teams waited in another room for their turn, they could hear other cars going off the track and crashing.

“All we could hear was the reaction from the crowd,” he said. “We tried to distract ourselves with headphones but it didn’t really work and we were second to last to go out of 16 teams.”

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