Monday, October 10, 2005

DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 Comments

This years "grand challenge" had five finishers as well as an overall winner: Stanford's Stanley. The finishers were:
  1. Stanford Racing Team, "Stanley"
  2. Red Team, "Sandstorm"
  3. Red Team Too, "Highlander"
  4. Gray Team, "GreyBot"
  5. Team TerraMax, "TerraMax"
This contrasts with last year's race in which no one finished, and the best distance was barely 7 miles compared with this years 132 miles traveled from start to finish.

Why so many finishers this year? A lot had to do with how this years race was organized. Last years race ran for nearly 150 miles between two distant points, while this years race was a loop where the start and end points were the same. What's more the route was more carefully chosen this time around.

Overall I'm very pleased that Stanford won. CMU came back with two teams this year (Red Team and Red Team Too) to finish, but it was the first year contender, Stanford, that beat them with superior engineering.

What Next?
  1. It will be interesting to see if there is another DARPA Grand Challenge. What DARPA should do is to start a Robot Road Rally where teams get to field robot cars that autonomously drive around varied terrain, especially built-up urban areas.
  2. Boeing and SAIC sponsored the CMU team entries. Because Boeing and SAIC are co-primes on Future Combat Systems, expect the technology developed with Sandstorm and H1ghlander to wind up being used in FCS Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs).

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