Starting in 2004, with the U.S. at war in Iraq and Afghanistan and soldiers being killed by roadside bombs, the federal government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, staged three competitions to accelerate development of autonomous vehicles. The hope: that driverless vehicles could save lives on the battlefield. The result: creation of a research community that would make fleets of autonomous vehicles "a near certainty for the first quarter of the 21st century," according to the agency.
Many startups share DNA from the DARPA Grand Challenges of 2004 and 2005 and the DARPA Urban Challenge of 2007. Here are some of them.
Argo AI: Self-driving development partner to Ford, VW
DARPA connection: Co-founder and CEO Bryan Salesky led software engineering for Tartan Racing, Carnegie Mellon University's winning team in the Urban Challenge.