A team from Carnegie Mellon University, in partnership with General Motors, Continental AG, Caterpillar and others, won the $2 million top prize in the DARPA Urban Challenge autonomous vehicle race held Nov. 3. Here is a race day account.
VICTORVILLE, Calif. — The first thing that strikes me about this place is the color — or the lack of it. It's all khaki. Everywhere you look, abandoned khaki buildings are scattered in an endless expanse of khaki dirt covered with khaki rocks. Even the air is filled with khaki dust.
But this is the Mojave Desert, after all, and I'm on an old military base. If the government knows nothing else, it knows khaki.
It also knows how to look toward the future, and this is why we're here. In a few moments history will be made as 11 robotic vehicles compete for a $2 million prize. The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is sponsoring this race, called the DARPA Urban Challenge. Its hope is that the competition will speed development of vehicles that are completely autonomous, able to drive themselves with no human intervention and no remote controls.
With U.S. military convoys under attack in Iraq, the Pentagon's interest in driverless vehicles is hardly academic.