14 September 2005
Robots ready for desert race
The much anticipated Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge where robotic vehicles compete for a $2 million prize after traveling over 150 miles of rugged desert will begin and end in Primm, Nev., officials said.
Until now, the location of the challenge had been a secret. Organizers decided to change it this year to make it easier to track the vehicles, said Tony Tether, director of DARPA, which is sponsoring the race.
Last year, the race, which ended in disappointment, went across the Mojave Desert from Barstow, Calif., to Primm. None of the teams won the $1 million prize last year. A converted Humvee by Carnegie Mellon University performed the best but broke down after just 7 1/2 miles.
The idea behind the challenge is for DARPA, the research and development arm of the Pentagon, to foster the development of unmanned vehicles that could see action in combat.
No one will know the exact course for this year's competition until two hours before the race.
Forty-three robotic vehicles will compete head-to-head in the semifinal round of this year's competition, scheduled for the California Speedway in Fontana later on this month and in early October. Twenty vehicles will earn a spot on the starting line for the Grand Challenge.
The vehicles have to maneuver without human help through a series of man-made obstacle courses. They must rely on global positioning satellites and various sensors, lasers, radar, and cameras to detect and avoid barriers.
For related information, go to www.isa.org/motionsystems.
"We're 77% ahead of our business last year. We knew six months ago that this recession was happening, and we planned. We...