Mini-Grand Prix Challenge


The Summer Robotics program is being expanded in 2017 based on the success of the previous residential program. This program consists of three components: (1) on-line course from December 2016 to May 2017, open to all interested and committed students; (2) 4-week summer program at MIT for small group of students July 10–August 4, 2017; and (3) final competition open to all qualified teams August 6, 2017.

The 2016 curriculum is being made available on-line as a series of self-paced units for students to follow independently. This content will become the prerequisite material for participation in the 2017 Summer Robotics program that will be at a higher level and will address more research-oriented technologies, techniques, tools, and applications. For the 2017 summer program, we anticipate more in-depth coverage of pose estimation and recovery for localization, visual servoing for local navigation, machine learning with neural networks for object detection and identification, simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), and global planning for navigation in unknown and dynamic environments.

For the on-line course, we plan to use an online platform to prepare the materials with links to content, lab exercises, and demonstration challenges. The on-line course will provide familiarity with the key tools utilized in the program that is based on the Robot Operating System (ROS, running on the Ubuntu distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system. Programming skills with the Python programming language will be developed and experience gained with the OpenCV (open computer vision) tools widely used in industry and academic research. In addition, core units in control systems, computer vision, localization, navigation, and planning will be available which closely follow the learning sequence of the 2016 curriculum.

The designs and list of components required to build your own RACECAR are available on GitHub (at for those who would like to begin now. To get started immediately, a virtual model of the RACECAR that can be controlled through ROS and is suitable for use in the Gazebo simulator is also available in the downloadable materials for the course. To facilitate the build, a virtual machine image with the basic components required for the course is also available for download. This Virtual Machine is suitable for use with the free and open source VirtualBox ( or the commercial VMWare Player/Fusion ( applications.

The Mini-Grand Prix Challenge is also being expanded in 2017 to include high-school teams from around the country, which have adopted the RACECAR platform and utilized it for a robotics program in their own department or club. A new, more challenging venue is being prepared for the first Invitational Mini-Grand Prix Challenge to be hosted on the MIT campus in the summer of 2017.