Saturday, October 08, 2005

Go Team TerraMAX

Today 23 driverless cars ("autonomous robotic vehicles") set off on a 132 mile drive across the Nevada desert. They had to avoid obstacles, navigate narrow and windy mountain roads and pass through tunnels. This is the 2005 Grand Challenge, sponsored by DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency).

In last year's Grand Challenge, with a $1 million prize, no car made it past the 8 mile point. This year, the race for ten teams ended before they traveled ten miles. However, so far, four cars have successfully finished the course (Stanford, two from Carnegie Mellon and one sponsored by the Gray Insurance Company).

The team I'm rooting for, though, is Team TerraMAX, out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Now, at 8:30PM, their entry has travelled 83 miles, and still appears to be very slowly moving along in the pitch-black desert darkness. They have no chance of winning (they have already been on the course almost two hours longer than the fastest entry, Stanford), but it would be great if they made it to the finish line.

Learn more about the teams and watch videos here.

(Click on the "+" by the map to see the terrain in more detail. Select "Downloads" on the left for official video footage. Click on the status board for the latest information - green bots are still running.)

UPDATE: Team TerraMAX did finish the course. Yay! The final times on the cours:
Stanford Racing Team - 6 h 53 min - winner of the 2 million dollar prize
Red Team (Carnegie Mellon) - 7 h 4 m
Red Team Too (Carnegie Mellon) - 7 h 14 m
Team TerraMax - 12 h 51 m

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