The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | Dec 5 2007

Robotics Institute Seminar, Dec 5, 2007
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Tartan Racing and the Urban Challenge




Chris Urmson

Carnegie Mellon University


Time and Place


Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305 )

Time: 12:00 to 1:30 pm




The DARPA Urban Grand Challenge was a 60 mile race through an urban roadway where vehicles had to follow the same rules of the road that human drivers are expected to respect.  This challenge differed from the 2 previous Grand Challenges in that the robots not only had to navigate the course, but they were required to drive safely in the presence of other human-driven cars as well as the other robot competitors.  Robots were required to safely handle four-way intersections, parking lots, multiple-lane traffic, temporary road blockages (such as stopped cars), and merging into and out of moving traffic.  Thirty-five teams attended the national qualifying event.  Only eleven teams made it to the final race, and of those, only six succeeded in crossing the finish line.


This talk will describe the details of the DARPA Urban Challenge and describe Carnegie Mellon's entry Boss, the autonomous vehicle which won the challenge.  The talk will illustrate the overall system architecture and highlight the many component technologies that made up Boss.  I will describe the team's approach to development and testing  over the course of the year and a half preparation leading up to the race.  The talk will concluded with some preliminary lessons learned and an idea of where this research will go from here.


Speaker Biography


Chris is the Director of Technology for Tartan Racing.  Previously, Chris was a robotics research scientist with SAIC and an adjunct faculty member of the Robotics Institute at CMU.  He earned his PhD in 2005 from CMU and his B.Sc. in Computer Engineering from the University of Manitoba in 1998.  Chris has earned a variety of corporate and academic awards including being named a Siebel Scholar, and receiving technology innovation awards from Boeing Phantom Works and SAIC.


Speaker Appointments


For appointments, please contact Peggy Martin (

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.