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Pentagon's DARPA robotic challenge: Dodge little old ladies, lead foots

Seven months after an unmanned Volkswagen successfully drove itself over the rugged desert, the Pentagon is sponsoring another challenge for self-driving vehicles that can weave through congested city traffic without causing an accident. The contest, to be held in November 2007, will award $2 million to the first vehicle to complete the 60-mile, simulated urban course. The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, created the latest challenge to spur development of vehicles that could be used in the battlefield without any sort of remote control. Unlike previous DARPA contests, in which the winner takes all, second-place finishers will get $500,000 while third place will receive $250,000.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 5/3/06

October, 2005

Stanford team clinches top spot in $2 million DARPA challenge

A Stanford University team won a $2 million prize on Sunday for sending a modified Volkswagen across 132 miles of rugged desert, guided only by sensors and computers in a race the Pentagon hopes will lead to a technological breakthrough in warfare. Twenty-three driverless vehicles were sent into the Mojave Desert on Saturday in a race sponsored by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA. After extending the race a day to allow a slow-moving robotic vehicle to finish, the Stanford University vehicle, known as Stanley, was declared the winner of the Grand Challenge with the quickest race time of six hours and 54 minutes. DARPA sponsored the race to spur development of driverless vehicles that one day could carry water, fuel and other supplies for the U.S. military in war zones. In last year's inaugural race, called the Grand Challenge, every machine failed within sight of the starting line. The Pentagon decided to double the prize and hold the event again this year.  Full Story  Reuters_ 10/10/05

Stanford vehicle 1st to finish DARPA robot race

A customized Volkswagen SUV created by Stanford University on Saturday became the first driverless vehicle to cross the finish line of a $2 million Pentagon-sponsored robot race across the rugged Mojave Desert. The race announcer did not immediately declare a winner because 22 out of the 23 robots left the starting line at staggered times at dawn, racing against the clock rather than each other. The Volkswagen robot dubbed "Stanley" finished the course in less than 7 1/2 hours. Four other robots remained on the course. Last year's much-hyped inaugural robot race ended without a winner when all the self-navigating vehicles broke down shortly after leaving the starting gate. The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, plans to award $2 million to the first vehicle to cover the race in less than 10 hours. The taxpayer-funded race was intended to spur innovation and development of remote control-free robots that could be used in the battlefield.  Full Story AP/Forbes_ 10/8/05

Robot vehicles gather to race in U.S. desert again
Will anyone manage to get close to the finish line this time?

Twenty robotic vehicles including modified SUVs, dune buggies and one motorcycle return to the Nevada desert this weekend to try to win a $2 million prize from the Pentagon for crossing 150 miles of hills, valleys, rocks, tumbleweeds and man-made obstacles.  Last year, in the inaugural race sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, no machine made it beyond sight of the starting line in the challenge designed to promote the development of driverless vehicles that one day could carry supplies for the U.S. military in war zones. "We can now see a future where these vehicles will take the place of soldiers in harm's way," said Ron Kurjanowicz, program manager of the DARPA Grand Challenge race.  FULL STORY_ Reuters 10/5/05

Robot Humvee drives for 7 hours as prep for $2 million DARPA Challenge
The robotic vehicle built by Red Team Robot Racing from Carnegie Mellon University covered 200 miles (322 kilometres) during the trial. The test was part of preparations for a robot vehicles race across the Mojave desert organised by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. The race, called the Grand Challenge, is due to be held on 8 October. The aim of the competition is to encourage research into robot vehicles. In the first Grand Challenge held last year, none of the robot cars taking part made it to the finishing line.  Full Story  BBC News_ 7/13/05

March 2004

Early problems end $1 million DARPA robot race across Mojave Desert
A 150-mile robot race across the Mojave Desert ended Saturday just hours after it started, leaving a $1 million prize unclaimed after technical glitches, barbed-wire fences and rugged terrain foiled all 15 driverless vehicles.  Full story  AP/San Francisco Chronicle 3/13/04

15 teams qualify for today's DARPA Mojave robot race
Of more than 100 entries, only 15 robotic vehicles, ranging from a motorcycle to a mega-military truck, made the final cut.  Full story  CNN.com 3/12/04

Robot desert race faces spluttering start
Qualification tests for the longest, fastest and most treacherous robot vehicle race ever has reached the halfway point with just one of 20 autonomous vehicles managing to complete the course. The failure of most teams to qualify so far confirms what many observers suspected - that the richest, most experienced group, made up of over 50 professors and graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, may be the only one with a chance of completing the actual race.  Full story  New Scientist 3/10/04

Robot Desert Classic begins this weekend
It's a 200-mile road race with no drivers, just cars. It's a Mad Max dash across the California desert, but no Max. The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the technological godfather of things stealth, smart bullets and the Internet, is sponsoring a road race this week — with one overriding entry requirement. Only robots need apply.   Full story    Atlanta Journal-Constitution 3/7/04

Texas Instruments and Team D.A.D. collaborate on self-navigating unmanned vehicles for U.S. government's Grand Challenge
Leveraging the real-time advantage of digital signal processors (DSP) for innovative applications, Texas Instruments, Incorporated (TI) (NYSE:TXN), in conjunction with Digital Auto Drive (D.A.D.), a research and development organization, announced today that TI’s leading video and imaging DSPs and control technologies are at the heart of Team D.A.D.’s unmanned, self navigating vehicle, a vision navigation and vehicle control system integrated into a Toyota Tundra truck. Full story  Press Release 3/5/04


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