Canada’s First National Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) Student Competition 

(OTTAWA): A team from Carleton University, the Carleton Autonomous Rovers, has won the first-ever Unmanned Ground Vehicle Competition – #UGV19 – organized by Unmanned Systems Canada/Systèmes Télécommandés Canada (USC-STC). They received not only accolades, interest from industry and government attendees, but a cash prize of $2,000.

The event took place May 25-26, 2019 at the new Ottawa L5 Facility, North America’s first integrated test environment for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV). Two teams were involved, with the second-place team a joint effort between students from the University of Ottawa and Carleton. The second team took home $1,000.

The winning entry, a creation of Carleton's Autonomous Rovers, pushes "snow" during #UGV19

A scale-model snowplow, created by the Carleton Autonomous Rovers Team, pushes “snow” during the #UGV19, USC-STC’s first-ever Unmanned Ground Vehicle competition.  Photo by Martin Smith.

The Challenge to Students: Design an Autonomous Snowplow

This year’s challenge involved building and programming scale-model autonomous snowplows capable of detecting and avoiding obstacles on a test track, clearing “snow,” and using other intelligent technologies. Such competitions and research help contribute toward the eventual use of autonomous, intelligent and efficient unmanned vehicles on our roadways.

“Autonomous passenger vehicles get a lot of publicity, but there’s an exponential growth in autonomous non-passenger vehicles used for industry and public sector applications, such as snowplows,” says Barrie Kirk, a director with USC-STC and key organizer of the event. “These students, from both teams, are well-positioned for employment in this dynamic field.”

A joint University of Ottawa/Carleton Team works on “Hot Wheels” – which placed second. (Photo by Martin Smith.)

Although USC-STC has now organized 11 competitions involving Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), this is the first involving Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV). The contest had generous sponsorship support from:

  • Transport Canada, which contributed $50,000 through its Program to Advance Connectivity and Automation in the Transportation System (ACATS)
  • UGV Student Competition Coordinator, USC-STC Director Barrie Kirk and his network of unmanned, robotic and autonomous vehicle experts from the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, CAVCOE. 

“Transport Canada was pleased to be involved with this inaugural Unmanned Ground Vehicle Competition and witness the teamwork and ingenuity of the competitors,” says Jim Lothrop, Director General of the Transport Canada Innovation Centre. “Autonomous vehicles will offer many potential benefits in Canada’s connected transportation system of the future – including improved safety.”

The vehicles in the competition had to use sense-and-avoid and other smart technologies to carry out set tasks.

(Photo by Martin Smith.)

This event, sponsorship by Transport Canada, support from the event, its inausponsorship, are signals of the important role unmanned and connected vehicles are starting to play.

“This was a tremendous ‘first,’” says Glenn Martin, Executive Director of Unmanned Systems Canada. “Our first UGV competition, the first major event at the L5 facility, and what I hope is the first of many Unmanned Ground Vehicle competitions to come as this exciting industry continues to accelerate.”

The USC-STC Committee Judges took things very seriously, scoring competitors on a number of preset criteria. (Photo by Martin Smith.)

This competition pushed the ingenuity of team members on multiple fronts as their skills in coding, mechatronics, artificial intelligence and more were put to the test to ensure the snowplows performed as expected. 


Winners of this year’s competition will be honoured this October at USC-STC’s 17th Annual National Unmanned Canada 2019 Conference and Trade Show, where Barrie Kirk will also be leading a panel presentation about ‘New Mobility for Canada.’ #UC19Ottawa promises to be Canada’s largest and premier industry gathering of professionals, policy-makers, researchers and public service providers advancing the world of unmanned, remotely piloted, autonomous, intelligent vehicles.  

Click here to visit the UC19Ottawa event website for updates about Competition Awards, speakers, the New Mobility Panel, full agenda, exhibitors and sponsorship opportunities. Join us in our nation’s capital this October to see why UC19Ottawa is the place to be to learn about Innovating Canada by Air, Land and Sea. 

About Unmanned Systems Canada/Systèmes Télécommandés Canada (USC-STC)

USC-STC Is a Canadian-registered, not-for-profit association founded in 2003 by a small group of entrepreneurs and visionaries committed to representing the interests of Canada’s unmanned vehicle systems community. It has since grown to include students, academia, industry and investors across the aerial, ground and marine unmanned sectors.


MEDIA: For a downloadable .pdf of the original release, click here

Media enquiries about the USC-STC UGV Student Competition and UC19Ottawa (from October 30 to November 1, 2019): 
Contact Scott Simmie by phone: 416-705-9100 or email:  [email protected]

Learn more about media coverage via the Contact Us page on the UC19Ottawa website

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