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DARPA GRAND CHALLENGE 2005: 40 Teams through to next round

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June 7, 2005

DARPA GRAND CHALLENGE 2005: 40 Teams through to next round

DARPA GRAND CHALLENGE 2005: 40 Teams through to next round

June 8, 2005 The DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 autonomous ground vehicle competition was narrowed down to 40 teams yesterday – the teams which will compete from September 27 to October 5 to be one of the final 20 teams to compete in the second “race of the century” on October 8, 2005. The DARPA Grand Challenge is a race for fully autonomous vehicles – no drivers, no human assistance, no remote control. From the point that the vehicles leave the starting gate on October 8, they will be on their own an vehicles must travel approximately 150 miles over rugged desert roads using only onboard sensors and navigation equipment to find and follow the route and avoid obstacles. See our race report from the first race or read on for details of the second race and contestants.

The 40 teams will compete head-to-head in the National Qualification Event (NQE) at the California Speedway in Fontana, September 27 to October 5, 2005 where 20 of the 40 teams will be selected to compete for the US$2 million prize in the Grand Challenge event, scheduled for October 8, 2005. The teams come from 14 states and Canada and represent varied backgrounds including universities, individuals, corporations, and a high school.

DARPA selected the semifinalists from a field of 118 entrants, using results from on-site visits conducted by DARPA technical staff last month. During the site visits, DARPA thoroughly evaluated the capability of each team’s vehicle to autonomously navigate a narrow 200-metre course that contained turns and randomly placed obstacles.

“The high quality of vehicle performance that we witnessed during the site visits is truly impressive,” said DARPA Director Dr. Anthony Tether. “We are thrilled with the sheer excitement about developing autonomous ground vehicles that the Grand Challenge has sparked among people from all walks of life. It was difficult to winnow the field from the 118 great teams to only 40 – the competition was tough.”

Grand Challenge Program Manager Ron Kurjanowicz praised all 118 entrants and their sponsors, and underscored that the 40 semifinalists were selected from a very strong field of competitors. “It is truly remarkable how much progress the Grand Challenge teams have made in a relatively short period of time,” he said. “The NQE will be very exciting and we will see autonomous vehicle performance that was not possible a year ago. The teams’ creative sparks are flying and they are making impressive progress toward DARPA’s goal of developing technologies that will save the lives of our men and women in uniform on the battlefield.”

DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 is a field test of robotic ground vehicles for the purpose of advancing autonomous vehicle technology. The vehicles must travel approximately 150 miles over rugged desert roads using only onboard sensors and navigation equipment to find and follow the route and avoid obstacles. DARPA will award US$2 million to the team whose autonomous vehicle successfully completes the 2005 route the fastest within a 10-hour time period. All vehicles are developed without Government funding.

The teams selected to participate in the Grand Challenge NQE are listed here.

http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/TeamInfo.html

For more information about the DARPA Grand Challenge, including details on selected teams, please visit the official website at

http://www.darpa.mil/GrandChallenge

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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