DARPA Announces Urban Challenge Finalists 11 Teams to Compete for Cash Prizes in Final Event of Robotic GroundVehicle Competition

BY Byron Spice - Fri, 2007-11-02 12:00  Printer-friendly version

Victorville, Calif.— The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA) today announced that 11 teams have been selected as finalists tocompete in the DARPA Urban Challenge Event on November 3 at the formerGeorge Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif. The finalists (listattached) were selected from a field of 35 semi-finalists thatparticipated in the National Qualification Event (NQE) October 26-31, andwill compete for cash prizes worth $2 million for first, $1 million forsecond, and $500,000 for third place."The teams that competed in the NQE were subjected to a series ofrigorous tests to determine whether they were equipped to compete in theUrban Challenge Final Event," said DARPA Director Dr. Tony Tether."Finalists were selected based on performance in the NQE tests asmeasured by data collected and evaluated by trained scorers in the testingareas. The NQE tested the vehicles capability to merge into traffic,navigate four-way intersections, respond to blocked roads, pass on-comingcars on narrow roads, and keeping up with traffic on two- and four-laneroads. In fact, the only major difference between the NQE and the FinalEvent is that other robotic vehicles will be part of the traffic in theFinal Event."

Teams competing in the Urban Challenge Event attempt to complete a complex60-mile urban course with live traffic in less than six hours. Thefinalists will operate on the course roads with approximately 50human-driven traffic vehicles. Speed is not the only factor indetermining the winners, as vehicles must also meet the same standardsrequired to pass the California DMV road test.

From the time each robotic vehicle leaves its starting chute and beginsthe course, it is entirely under control of its onboard mission computer- human observers may intervene only for purposes of safety. The entirefield of robotic vehicles will be on the course at the same time,interacting with one another as vehicles in urban areas across America doeach day. The vehicles will face driving challenges that include trafficcircles, merges, four-way intersections, blocked roads, parking, passingslower moving vehicles, and merging safely with traffic on two- and four-lane roads.

"Vehicles competing in the Urban Challenge will have to think like humandrivers and continually make split-second decisions to avoid movingvehicles, including robotic vehicles without drivers, and operate safelyon the course," added Urban Challenge Program Manager Dr. NormanWhitaker. "The urban setting adds considerable complexity to thechallenge faced by the robotic vehicles, and replicates the environmentswhere many of today's military missions are conducted."

The Urban Challenge Event is open to spectators, and is expected toattract thousands of attendees and hundreds of media from all over theworld. The competition's course and spectator areas at the formerGeorge Air Force Base are located at 18374 Phantom in Victorville, Calif.Grounds will be open to spectators starting at 6:00 AM PDT, and after anopening ceremony at 7:30 AM PDT, vehicles will begin to launch at 8:00 AM PDT.

Robotics enthusiasts who are unable to make it to Victorville can get afirst-hand look at the action in a professionally hosted webcast startingat 7:30 AM PDT / 10:30 AM EDT that will feature views of the competitionfrom a variety of camera positions. The webcast will be accessible viatwo event websites www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge and www.grandchallenge.orgthat also will have regularly updated news,pictures and other content on the competition. Television stations candownlink a satellite feed with same day coverage of the competition onSaturday, November 3, 1:00-1:30 PM PDT / 4:00-4:30 PM EDT, Galaxy 17 KU, transponder 4, uplink frequency 14080-H, downlink frequency 11780-V.

Qualification Breakdown

Qualified
Ben Franklin Racing Team, Philadelphia, PA
CarOLO, Caroline, NY
Honeywell/Intelligent Vehicle Solutions, Troy, MI
MIT, Cambridge, MA
Stanford Racing Team, Stanford, CA
Tartan Racing, Pittsburgh, PA
Team Cornell, Ithaca, NY
Victor Tango, Blacksburg, VA
Team AnnieWay, Palo Alto, CA
Team Oshkosh Truck, Oshkosh, WI
Team UCF, Orlando, FL

Did Not Qualify
Austin Robot Technology, Austin, TX
AvantGuardium, Fort Worth, TX
Axion Racing, Westlake Village, CA
Gator Nation, Gainesville, FL
Georgia Tech/SAIC Sting Racing, Atlanta, GA
Insight Racing, Cary, NC
Mojavaton, Grand Junction, CO
Ody-Era, Kokomo, IN
Princeton, Princeton, NJ
SciAutonics/Auburn Engineering, Thousand Oaks, CA
Team Berlin, Houston, TX
OSU-ACT, Columbus, OH
Team Autonomous Solutions, Petersboro, UT
Team CajunBot, Lafayette, LA
Team CalTech, Pasadena, CA
Team Case, Cleveland, OH
Team Cybernet, Ann Arbor, MI
Team Gray, Metairie, LA
Team Jefferson, Crozet, VA
Team Juggernaut, Sandy, UT
Team Urbanator, Littleton, CO
Team-LUX, Woodstock, MD
The Golem Group, Santa Monica, CA
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

ABOUT DARPA
DARPA is the central research and development organization for theDepartment of Defense (DoD). The Agency manages and directs basic andapplied research and development projects for DoD and pursues research andtechnology that provide dramatic advances in support of military missions.

ABOUT THE DARPA GRAND CHALLENGE
DARPA has sponsored two previous autonomous robotic ground vehiclecompetitions that were known as the DARPA Grand Challenge. The 2004competition featured 15 vehicles attempting to complete a 142-mile desertcourse for a $1 million cash prize, but none of the vehicles finished. Inthe 2005 Grand Challenge, four autonomous vehicles successfully completeda 132-mile desert route under the required 10-hour limit, and DARPAawarded a $2 million prize to "Stanley" from Stanford University.

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