Interest in autonomous driving is on the rise. In October 2020, the Korean government announced its plan to support the implementation of third-level autonomous driving, which is a system where the driver seldom needs to monitor the course of the vehicle . Consequently, autonomous driving was selected as one of the most popular industries via Korea University Innovation Center for Engineering Education (KUICEE)’s education program in their semi-annual survey. This led to KUICEE holding the 2021 Robot Operating System (ROS) Autonomous Driving Education Program last January in a joint effort with Tresc3 and WeGo.
Tresc3 is an edu-tech start-up with the goal of bringing on-site engineer’s knowledge to learners. Kim Kwan- soo, the Chief Technology Officer ofTresc3, presented as the lecturer.
However, as with every new technology mentioned related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, understanding autonomous driving requires the merging of several academic disciplines such as computer engineering, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Furthermore, due to the fast development of high technology, it is not always possible to be updated with the knowledge solely following undergraduate school courses.
Kim gave some advice on how undergraduates can constantly expose themselves to subjects as sophisticated as autonomous systems.
Kim said that in order to take a step further from simply having interest in this field, reading trend reports and attempting to digest relevant papers can help.
However, as a learner himself currently a Ph.D candidate in system control studying autonomous driving, he emphasized the importance of trying to combine the “language” of diverse disciplines that compose this technology. By “language,” Kim elaborated, he meant the terminology referring to parts of the system, which can be different in every discipline despite pertaining to the same concept. He refers to the activity of connecting the dots between disciplines through unifying descriptions as “setting the tone in unison.”
For instance, during his undergraduate years, he had learned about lane tracers, programs that enable a robot to detect a lane to probe. As lane tracers are technically the eyes of an autonomous driving vehicle, the subject of autonomous systems was in fact not new to Kim. However, he did not realize it because the terminology he had learned to refer to before beginning his graduate studies was different. He accentuated putting the relationships into words and connecting the scattered knowledge that comprise a single system.
Furthermore, he shared his experience within graduate school to explain better upon what gains it provide.
“I came to graduate school thinking it would allow me to gain a deeper understanding of autonomous driving,” Kim stated. “What I genuinely achieved in graduate school was literacy: the ability to explain what I am studying in words.”
According to his personal experiences, literacy strengthens one’s ability to digest what is said by others and maximizes the overall learning experience. He recommended that undergraduate students attend spontaneous team projects or apply for competitions if they are seeking alternative activities that would improve their literacy.
Kim Yu-jung, a senior majoring in the Division of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, was a participant of the ROS program.
As an undergraduate student interested in biomedical engineering, autonomous driving was not one of her subjects until last semester.
“I was able to listen to a seminar on autonomous driving thanks to a robotics course last semester,” Kim said. “It made me realize how close we were to real-life application of autonomous driving, and thus I chose to learn about ROS.”
She was able to listen to the seminar due to her division’s track system, which Kim pointed out as one of the visible efforts of the school to stimulate undergraduates with new knowledge.
The track system refers to a program under Division of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering. After two years at the university, students are given a choice among three tracks inside the division for them to dive deeper during the rest of undergraduate years.
Lastly, Kim shared how satisfied she was with the ROS education.
“It was a great chance to get to know a new tool. Also, I feel like I can try on new projects because the course has thoroughly explained the knowledge from the basics,” Kim said.