What is RACECAR
Rapid Autonomous Complex-Environment Competing Ackermann-steering Robot (say it quick 5 times)
RACECAR is a powerful open-source powerful for robotics research and education. The platform houses state-of-the-art sensors and computing hardware, placed on top of a powerful 1/10-scale mini race car.
Who makes RACECAR
You do. The design and development of the RACECAR was a joint effort between the Beaver Works Initiative of the Lincoln Laboratory, the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, and the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
What skill level or background is needed to start
None. All the knowledge and know-how is supplied for you online
How can I help as a teacher /mentor /advisor/ activities director
Help the team form.
Open up your classroom for an hour or two a week.
Provide access to computers and internet.
Encourage independant initiative in everything.
Level of commitment & involvement is your choice.
Know how much you are appreciated, for giving your students a chance to explore a a new opportunity.
Can I add RACECAR as a school elective
Yes. BWSI has online course materials and software tools, you'll need computers and parts for either a mini or standard RACECAR.
How much time and effort does it take
Effort is up to you. All the know-how is supplied.
Teacher /mentor: it could take as little as an hour a week to allow students
to meet after school. You can be working on grading or finishing up
paperwork for the day
For new middle schools teams and electives: a little support & encouragement
from teachers and mentors goes a long way. As students gain confidence working together, skills momentum should increase independence. BWSI has additional
support materials to help middle school teachers and students.
It's a student fueled initiative. Encourage independent thinking, consultation, collaboration so the team grows stronger by solving problems and teaching
one another. If the team needs funding, you can float ideas or help set
them up for Donors Choose contributions.
Is it hard
If you want to make this car run, you will find a way. That's our experience.
It's not the traditional bookwork and regular canned science you get all day.
RACECAR courses have been designed especially for you and best of all, you choose the pace and track your progress.
Help out your teammates, so everyone has a role in the race and enjoys the experience. MIT's project based learning and collaboration method, makes all
the difference how you master and build your capabilities over time.
Is it all technical
Imagine ACRT like a start-up company, what would you like to do? Contact us.
ACRT appreciates students, parents and mentors who want to make a difference through community outreach. We're working on opening doors to students around the country, so they can enjoy building and running their own RACECAR teams!
Join us. Sometimes you may be helping a lone student trying to get a start.
What kind of subjects will we learn
Coverage includes: robotics, autonomous vehicles, Robot Operating System (ROS), machine learning, machine vision, lidar, sensors, coding with Python.
What kind of tools do we need.
All the software tools are online. Simple set of small screwdrivers. Later, access
to things like 3d printers can help with mods and when you adapt new stuff!
How can we get help
If you're just getting started, reach out to us. As you start building, most of the time, things work out. You'll learn the difference between a hardware or software
glitch and gradually pick up pace.
What will we get out of this
You may start with very little knowledge. Stick to it, you'll gain the coding skills to control all the major components of the autonomous vehicle.
One more thing. If you're a high school student in the U.S, once you master the course, you are eligible for a four week program at BWSI. It's a fantastic experience at MIT, studying autonomous technologies in greater depth.
Your new skills and experience could be a launch ramp to bigger opportunities. Importantly, prove it to yourself - working and growing skills as team, you can move to new projects and apply your experience.
Once you learn the basics, progress to upgrading the vehicle's capabilities. For example, we learned from a lot of crashes, to make useful options including a lidar protection cage.
You're free to create your own mods and add unlimited slick performance features.
What do we need to get started as a team
Place to meet & a team advisor
Computers to access and run the course, software & know-how
Team setup, meet-up times
Contact us, we'll get you started with log-in registration
Where do we obtain the parts
All RACECAR parts are off the shelf, sourced from places like Amazon or direct from manufacturer. You may be able to get deals on parts.
A full parts list comes with the course.
Which RACECAR should we use
Middle school program : minicar
High school / college : minicar or standard
Minicar is affordable and gets you to a fast start. Standard is a more powerful platform with greater capabilities.
How much does it cost
For an advanced STEM program of this caliber - it's incredible value. The course, software and access on MIT's system is free.
Hardware - depending on the RACECAR specification you choose: Minicar or Standard. Minicar parts are around $600 /car Standard around $5500/ car
Does MIT make money from this program
No. MIT Beaver Works absorbs the cost of creating and serving RACECAR and 10 other online STEM programs. Beaver Works has been able to keep the program
delivery free to you, partly through the contribution from sponsors like Lockheed, and BAE Systems.
Does ACRT make money from this program
No. We do plan to offer a RACECAR kit to help support the team.
How did you raise money for the parts
RACECAR has a solid reputation, it's been tested and there's a lot of docs. Most schools and businesses welcome the opportunity to help you. Some schools or parent groups may also be willing to fund the parts.
Those option were not open to us. Based on previous experience and our environment, we figured it would be a start-up experience and got to work.
ACRT started with $30 worth of stamps, wrote letters to companies and applied for grants and sponsorships, that was probably the toughest part. Our advisor suggested Donors Choose, it worked to get us started. We finally made it.
Some of our members work tech gigs to fund parts for the team.
We didn't wait for the funding. ACRT moved fast to build skills with the online courses and coding. Gradually things came into place.
What's it like to be in your team
Students run operations. Fun. Really challenging. No boredom breaks. Crises and victories. Friendships. Respect. We learned how to work together and appreciate the chances we were given with the RACECAR program.
More Questions? Send them in to ACRT, we'll do our best to help you.