Cedarville University students engineer autonomous golf cart

Local News

CEDARVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – Self-driving vehicles seem to be the way of the future, and some Cedarville University students are getting a head start.

This month, they are test driving an autonomous golf cart they programmed themselves. 

Four senior engineering students spearheaded this project which was a first for Cedarville University. 

“Data is sent to a microcontroller, which is a small like computer chip, and that computer chip takes that data and sends signals to the motors,” said Michael Hayes, a computer engineering student and project CEO. “That allows the motors to turn, which allows the cart to drive.”

The students said in order to get the project done in a year, they had to focus on making it self-driving.

That means right now, the golf cart is not able to detect objects in its path, but no worries, it does have two emergency kill safes as they create new routes using GPS coordinates.

“You just have to have someone who can drive the cart and have the GPS recording points,” said Ryan Gordon, another computer engineering student and project CFO. “So you just drive the route and then the cart can drive it iself afterwards.”

University officials said a golf cart was a cost-effective vehicle to use to test and develop autonomous driving technology.

The project costed approximately $3,500.

$2,000 to purchase a used golf cart cost and $1,500 for the software and hardware to make the cart driverless. 

The project advisor, Dr. Danielle Fredette, has a background in autonomous vehicles but said the project was solely the students’ idea.

She added the skills they learned integrating different systems and ideas could pave the way for other self driving vehicles.

“If something like this could help with public transportation or a shuttle service, or something like that, make it cheaper for people to have services that way, that would be really great,” said Fredette.

Fredette said this is the first year an autonomous vehicle has been a senior project. but that it will continue next year with a focus on obstacle detection and routing. 

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