For Immediate Release: May 26, 2022

Students build, program self-driving vehicles for inaugural Autonomous Vehicle Racing competition

Sacramento students explore coding, robotics, transportation electrification and decarbonization

Using newly acquired computer coding skills, Sacramento-area middle and high school students will test their designs and autonomously navigate model cars on racetracks in SMUD’s inaugural Autonomous Vehicle Racing competition on Saturday at the Golden 1 Center. 

Date/Time: Media Availability: Saturday, May 28, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. 
Event: Autonomous Vehicle Racing competition on Saturday, May 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Golden 1 Center, 500 David J Stern Walk, Sacramento

Students from seven schools took part in months of hands-on learning about computer science, coding, programming and the benefits of transportation electrification, a growing green technology sector that will play a key role in
SMUD’s Clean Energy Vision of decarbonizing the region’s power supply by 2030.  Student mentors from Sacramento State, UC Davis and the University of the Pacific engaged the younger students in STEM-driven and project-based lessons modeled after the MIT Beaver Works program, a rigorous, world-class curriculum that focuses on computer science and robotics. The lessons and labs grow in complexity, beginning with basic tasks such as getting the vehicle to move in shapes. Students also learned more advanced concepts in robotics, including SLAM, sensor fusion and path planning.

Students constructed and coded their vehicles to race autonomously through various racecourse challenges. They programmed vehicles to follow specific pathways along a multi-pathway course and to travel alongside a cardboard wall without making contact. 

Mills Middle School, W. E. Mitchell Middle School, Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School, Robert L McCaffrey Middle School, Center Middle School, Laguna Creek High School and Cordova High School will be represented at the event. 

The Autonomous Vehicle Racing competition is the third large event this year that connects educators and students to renewable energy concepts in an engaging way. SMUD supports STEM education by providing a variety of special events and teacher training opportunities, including the Solar Car Race and the California Solar Regatta at Rancho Seco. Students also participated in discussions with industry experts about sustainability, careers in the electric vehicle industry and SMUD’s vision for the future of clean transportation. SMUD is a founding member of the California Mobility Center, which fosters clean e-mobility technologies and solutions that will become engines of economic growth through the development and commercialization of new clean mobility technologies, including electric vehicles, autonomous transportation, battery storage, shared mobility solutions and public transit.

About SMUD

As the nation’s sixth-largest, community-owned, not-for-profit electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity to Sacramento County for more than 75 years. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. Today, SMUD’s power supply is on average about 50 percent carbon free and SMUD has a goal to reach zero carbon in its electricity production by 2030.