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Team CajunBot gets position in next leg of Urban Challenge

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Advocate Acadiana bureau
August 10 2007

LAFAYETTE — Team CajunBot got the word Thursday it will be headed to California in October for the next leg of the Urban Challenge competition.

The competition is held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as a way to spur development of autonomous vehicles for military use.

Team CajunBot consists mostly of University of Louisiana at Lafayette students.

The previous two challenges — in which Team CajunBot has also competed — were held in the desert.

This year the challenge will be held in an urban environment in order to simulate the type of terrain American forces will encounter overseas.

Team CajunBot is one of only 36 teams — out of an original 89 — that have made the cut. DARPA officials have watched each team put its vehicle through tests in order to make cuts.

Other teams are a mix of universities private companies or public-private teams.

They include Stanford University MIT and Princeton University.

The team gathered Thursday on campus to watch a Web cast of a news conference at which DARPA Director Tony Tether announced which teams would be moving forward.

Unfortunately when Tether said a screen to his right showed the successful team names that screen couldn’t be seen on the Web cast.

“Where’s the list?” someone asked.

“We were on there right?” someone else said.

After a few nervous moments the team got word and relaxed shaking hands.

The semifinals and finals will be held in Victorville Calif. at the former George Air Force Base. The Army uses the base to train its troops for urban operations.

During the event the robotic vehicles have to — without human interaction — drive the streets obeying traffic laws while performing maneuvers such as merging into moving traffic navigating traffic circles and avoiding moving obstacles.

The field this year is strong Tether said.

Of the five teams that finished the last Grand Challenge only one of those teams ranked in the top five of the semifinalists. That was Team Gray a Metairie-based team formed by private companies.

The first team to make it through the 60-mile course within the six-hour time limit will be awarded $2 million.

Second and third place carry $1 million and $500 000 prizes respectively.

The semifinals will be held from Oct. 26 through Oct. 31. The top 20 finishers will be invited to participate in the Nov. 3 finals.

At past challenges Team CajunBot was a fan favorite one night hosting a crawfish boil for other teams.

©The Advocate
August 10 2007

DARPA chooses Urban Challenge competitors

August 9 2007

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected 36 teams as semi-finalists for its Urban Challenge National Qualification Event (NQE) scheduled for Oct. 26-31 at the former George Air Force Base in Victorville Calif.
Urban Challenge is the third in a series of DARPA-sponsored tests. Each has the stated goal of developing unmanned ground vehicles as a means of saving lives on the battlefield. During the NQE robotic vehicles will simulate military supply missions negotiating a complex road network within a six-hour time limit.
The top 20 teams from the NQE will move on to the Urban Challenge final event on Nov. 3 and compete for cash prizes worth $2 million for first place $1 million for second and $500 000 for third.
At the NQE and during the final event the robots will be required to operate without human intervention while obeying traffic laws. They must also merge into moving traffic navigate traffic circles and avoid moving obstacles. Tony Tether DARPA’s director said “the vehicles must perform as well as someone with a California driver’s license.”
According to DARPA the Victorville site was chosen because its roads best simulate the type of terrain U.S. forces operate in when deployed overseas. The Army now uses the site for urban warfare operations.
The semi-finalists selected to participate in the NQE are:

Austin Robot Technology Austin Texas
AvantGuardium Bethesda Md.
Axion Racing Westlake Village Calif.
Ben Franklin Racing Team Philadelphia Pa.
CarOLO New York N.Y.
Gator Nation Gainesville Fla.
Golem Group Santa Monica Calif.
Insight Racing Cary N.C.
Intelligent Vehicle Systems Dearborn Mich.
MIT Cambridge Mass.
Mojavaton Grand Junction Colo.
Ody-Era Kokomo Ind.<
OSU-ACT Columbus Ohio
Princeton University Princeton N.J.
SciAutonics/Auburn Engineering Thousand Oaks Calif.
Stanford Racing Team Stanford Calif.
Sting Racing Atlanta Ga.
Tartan Racing Pittsburgh Pa.
Team AnnieWay Palo Alto Calif.
Team Autonomous Solutions Petersboro Utah
Team Berlin Houston Texas
Team CajunBot Lafayette La.
Team Caltech Pasadena Calif.
Team Case Cleveland Ohio<
Team Cornell Ithaca N.Y.
Team Cybernet Ann Arbor Mich.
Team Gray Metairie La.
Team Jefferson Crozet Va.
Team Juggernaught Sandy Utah<
Team-LUX Woodstock Md.
Team Oshkosh Truck Oshkosh Wis.
Team UCF Orlando Fla.
Team Urbanator Littleton Colo.
University of Utah Salt Lake City Utah
UU Westminster Md.
VictorTango Blacksburg Va.

©C4ISR Journal
August 9 2007

CajunBot named semi-finalist in $2 million race

August 9 2007 

UL’s team CajunBot is a step closer to qualifying for the Department of Defense’s DARPA Grand Challenge.

On Thursday during a live Web cast DARPA listed Team CajunBot as one of the 36 teams who made the next cut as semi-finalists.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us ” said Arun Lakhotia the UL professor leading the team.

Louisiana’s other team Team Gray of Metairie also made the cut.

Now the team will prepare for the National Qualification event Oct. 26-31. Those teams that qualify will race on Nov. 3.

To learn more about the race visit

©The Lafayette Daily Advertiser
August 9 2007

UL team Cajunbot will learn fate today

August 9 2007 

At 12:30 p.m. today UL's team CajunBot should learn whether it will advance as a semi-finalist in the Department of Defense's DARPA Grand Challenge race of autonomous vehicles.

The race is scheduled for the fall.

It would be the third time the team has qualified for the race developed by the DoD's research agency to foster private research of autonomous vehicles for military purposes.

Check back after 1 p.m. for an update about the team's next step.

©The Lafayette Daily Advertiser
August 9 2007 

UL team Cajunbot will learn fate Thursday

August 8 2007

UL's team CajunBot will learn Thursday whether it advances as a semi-finalists for the Department of Defense's race of autonomous vehicles.

The DoD agency known as DARPA will announce the list of teams who are moving onto the next phase of contention around 12:30 p.m. Thursday. The UL team is part of the Web cast making it a likely contender for the next round.

It would be the third race that UL has participated in. DARPA began the race three years ago as a way to promote technology development of autonomous vehicles within the private sector to benefit the military.

Check back Thursday afternoon for an update about the team's fate.

©The Lafayette Daily Advertiser
August 8 2007

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