The Grand Challenge
Computers, start your engines. The DARPA Grand Challenge is about to begin. Starting September 29 and continuing through October 6, unmanned vehicles will attempt to drive 150 miles across a desert in 10 hours. The vehicles will not be remotely driven. They must navigate solely on the strength of their onboard computers and sensors across the course and to the finish line. The sponsor, DARPA, is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. But the contestants come from all over the United States and from several foreign countries. You can follow the progress of the race at www.grandchallenge.org. It contains links to individual teams and their team blogs.
The Seattle Times says this:
The military sponsors the race to speed the development of unmanned vehicles for combat. The project had an inauspicious start: Last year's inaugural contest ended soon after it began when the robots careened off course or abruptly stalled. One even got tangled in barbed wire. ... This year's race shows signs of being extremely competitive. Some vehicles have logged hundreds of self-guided miles in the Southwestern desert during summer practice runs. Several even tested on last year's course ... Vehicles will have to drive on dirt and gravel, maneuver mountain switchbacks, squeeze through choke points and avoid man-made and natural obstacles.
Carnegie Mellon's Red Team (brought to you by Caterpiller) has video links here and they are heavy downloads. One of the entrants is a robotic motorcycle. Check out the Blue Team at www.ghostriderrobot.com, which has video of their robotic contestant swimming underwater (Sort of. Mutley needed here.), doing ramp jumps and other cool stuff here. Any ideas on who'll finish first?