October 5, 2006 Please excuse us for being so excited, but the third Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge autonomous vehicle competition is scheduled for November 3, 2007 and this time instead of tackling the desert, the vehicles will be required to negotiate an urban environment. DARPA has established a two-track (track A and track B) system for teams to qualify and compete in the Urban Challenge in order to help accelerate autonomous development and this week it announced the track A teams which will each receive US $1 million in technology development funds.
Teams must achieve key technical milestones to receive the funds.
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The track A teams announced today are Autonomous Solutions, Young Ward, Utah; California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.; Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; The Golem Group, LLC, Santa Monica, Calif., Honeywell Aerospace Advanced Technology, Minneapolis, Minn.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.; Oshkosh Truck Corp., Oshkosh, Wis.; Raytheon, Tucson, Ariz.; Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
“We received more than 60 proposals from across the U.S. and the world, representing a broad array of backgrounds and technical approaches,” said Dr. Norman Whitaker, DARPA’s Urban Challenge program manager. “We look forward to working with the track A teams and the teams that submit applications under the track B opportunity as we move towards next year’s Urban Challenge.”
Teams interested in competing under track B must submit an application before October 13, 2006 (details are available at www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge). These teams will not receive any funds from DARPA but will compete equally to qualify for the final event. Track B participants will be announced October 18.
The Urban Challenge will feature fully autonomous ground vehicles conducting simulated military supply missions safely and effectively in a mock urban area. In the final event, on November 3, 2007, at an undisclosed location in the western U.S., robotic vehicles will attempt to complete a 60-mile course through traffic in less than six hours, operating under their own computer-based control. To succeed, vehicles must obey traffic laws while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections, and avoiding obstacles. The top three teams that complete the 60-mile course in less than six hours will receive trophies.
DARPA’s Grand Challenge has been successful in attracting enthusiasts from around the world to develop autonomous vehicle technology that will some day protect the lives of American men and women on the battlefield. Operation of autonomous vehicles in the Urban Challenge will test the ability of robots to operate safely and effectively in populated areas. The DARPA Grand Challenge Website (www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge) is the primary source for information about the Urban Challenge event and includes the latest information on the event as well as information for participants.