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Great Lakes Chapter,

Chapter Profile

Detroit, Michigan

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles focusing on AUVSI’s chapters around the world. Each Chapter Profile will examine chapter membership, activities and goals, as well as the environment around the chapter.


The Great Lakes Chapter, which began in 1986, sponsors one of AUVSI’s oldest student competitions, the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), now entering its 18th year. The chapter currently has a membership of 67.

While the economy of the Detroit area is not good, the heavy use of unmanned systems in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan means that some robotics industries in the area are thriving.

The chapter focuses heavily on robotic ground systems, as the area is the home to the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office (RS JPO), which develops, acquires, fields and sustains ground robotics for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps; the Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), which develops, integrates and sustains technology for all manned and unmanned DOD ground systems and combat support systems (and is part of the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command); and the Ground Robotics Reliability Center at the University of Michigan, which was formally launched in 2008.

The IGVC has steadily grown larger and more competitive over the years; the next competition, to be held 4-7 June in Rochester, Mich., will include more than 40 teams from around the world.

“I think the center of gravity for robotics in the United States is Southeast Michigan,” says iRobot’s Bruce Legge, the chapter’s vice president. “We’re not doing air; we’re not doing underwater stuff here; we’re focusing on the ground vehicles.”


“It’s a big deal,” Legge says of the competition. “It has very high visibility within the Department of Defense and in Congress.” The chapter is also sponsoring the 2010 Autonomous Drive, Connected Vehicle and Robotics Workshop on 22-24 June at the Troy, Mich., Marriott. The event will bring researchers from the automotive industry’s Connected Vehicle Initiative together with DOD ground vehicle researchers to look for “cross leverage” technologies. “The goal is to reduce the cost of robotics to the military and increase the competence and penetration

Attendees at a monthly AUVSI-GLC meeting held February 2010 at ABB Robotics in Auburn Hills, Mich.

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Unmanned Systems — May 2010


Chapter Profile

of active safety systems and other intelligent controls in the auto industries through dual-use development and technology transfers,” the chapter says. …continued

The chapter also sponsors frequent “lunch and learn” luncheons for members and non-members, which include high-level speakers. See the Web site for more information and a calendar of events.


The chapter’s main goal is to “synchronize the activities of government, industry and academia to develop technologies, encourage policies, shape investments and establish leadership in anticipation of homeland security and defense needs for the 21st century and beyond,” Legge says.

The University of Detroit-Mercy’s Ceratops, on its way to a win in the IGVC in 2008. All photos courtesy Great Lakes Chapter.


President: Dave Thomas, TARDEC Vice President: Bruce A. Legge, iRobot Secretary: Doug MacKenzie, Mobile Intelligence Corp. Treasurer: David Rohall, Lockheed Martin Past President: Jeff Jaczkowski, RSJPO

Area Facts and Figures Population Detroit Metro Area 2008 (estimated) 2008 Households

5,455,026 2,351,227

Top Ten Largest Employers in the Detroit Region Ford Motor Co. General Motors University of Michigan Chrysler LLC Detroit Public Schools U.S. Postal Service U.S. Government Henry Ford Health Services St. John Health System City of Detroit Technology • The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation ranked Michigan 19th in the 2008 State New Economy Index: Benchmarking Economic Transportation in the States report. This report measures 26 categories, ranging from IT professionals to venture capital and measures the 46

global, entrepreneurial and knowledged-based economy of each state. • Additionally, in the first round of the $2 billion 21st Century Jobs Fund, 61 life science, alternative energy, homeland security and advanced manufacturing companies will share more than $100 million for new development and scientific advancements. • More than 287,000 people work in advanced manufacturing for more than 3,000 Michigan companies. Education • 150 K-12 school districts • 10 universities • 13 colleges • 18 community college campuses Source: Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce

For More Information:

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Great Lakes Chapter of AUVSI  

Great Lakes Chapter of AUVSI