Team PL400 earns first-place finish in global autonomous racing competition

A team of Lehigh University students recently won the F1TENTH Virtual Competition Head-to-Head Race. The online event was part of the 10th F1TENTH Autonomous Grand Prix, held May 23-27, in conjunction with the 2022 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2022) in Philadelphia. 

Team PL400 includes electrical engineering graduate students Jinfeng Li and Xiyuan Zhu and computer science and engineering undergraduates Xinhao Tang and Weihang Guo, and is advised by Yahong Rosa Zheng, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. 

The team started the competition as the 9th seed in an international field of 17 qualifying teams. PL400 won their two early round matches and went on to defeat the 5th seed, team DSplay (Korea University), in the semifinal, and the 2nd seed, team ACE (Gyeongsang National University), in the final. 

Team PL400“The virtual race uses the Robotic Operating Systems (ROS) and an online simulator to race virtual cars. It is the first step to test the autonomous racing algorithms before trying them on the physical cars,” says Zheng, an expert in underwater wireless communication who also teaches classes on specialized programming methods for controlling robots.

Founded in 2016 at the University of Pennsylvania, F1TENTH is an international community of researchers, engineers, and autonomous systems enthusiasts that aims to “foster interest, excitement, and critical thinking about the increasingly ubiquitous field of autonomous systems.” 

The group designs related courses and maintains the F1TENTH Autonomous Vehicle System, an open-source platform for autonomous systems research and education. 

For their first place finish, team PL400 earned a Traxxas SLASH Ultimate short course race truck and accessory package, which will be modified into a new F1tenth race car and used to teach autonomous driving algorithms in Zheng’s courses. 

Two Lehigh teams also competed at the in-person F1TENTH race held during ICRA 2022 and placed 14th and 17th among the 20 teams that participated. The teams were formed by students and TAs of Zheng’s Autonomous Driving and Robotic Racing course. 

“The students put in tremendous effort, even working over nights,” Zheng says. “As rookie teams, we are happy with what we achieved this time, and we certainly learned a lot from this experience.”

Main image: Students and Professor Yahong Rosa Zheng (second from right) represented Lehigh at the 10th F1Tenth Autonomous Grand Prix in Philadelphia. Inset: Team PL400 (Jinfeng Li, Xinhao Tang. Xiyuan Zhu, and Weihang Guo) won first place in the Virtual Competition Head-to-Head Race.  

The students put in tremendous effort, even working over nights. As rookie teams, we are happy with what we achieved this time, and we certainly learned a lot from this experience.
ECE professor Yahong Rosa Zheng
Yahong Rosa Zheng