Robots Rev Up for Darpa's Urban Challenge

Brock Read
August 10 2007

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has winnowed down the list of competitors in its upcoming Urban Challenge to 36 teams. And it’s no surprise that many of those squads hail from universities that performed well in 2005’s Grand Challenge Darpa’s pioneering robot race.

Stanford University took top honors in the 2005 competition edging out two self-driving vehicles from Carnegie Mellon University in a tense trek through the Mojave Desert. Those two institutions could be on track to square off again: Both have had vehicles selected as semifinalists in this year’s race which will take place in November on a decommissioned Air Force base in California.

Darpa officials chose the semifinalists after visiting more than 50 teams from across the country. The squads that made the cut — which also include robotics groups from Cornell University the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology among others — will compete in time trials just a week before the main event. The quickest 20 robots will then get a chance to compete for a prize pool worth $3.5-million.

©The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 10 2007

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