View Full Version : Pentagon Takes Robotic Vehicle Challenge to the Streets

05-03-2006, 11:09 AM
3 May Los Angeles Times - Pentagon Takes Its Robotic Vehicle Challenge to the Streets (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-darpa3may03,1,2581513.story?coll=la-headlines-nation).

After robotic vehicles succeeded last year in navigating a grueling desert obstacle course, the Pentagon has now come up with an even hairier competition — navigating city streets.

The challenge was issued Monday by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which for the last two years has sponsored a $2-million contest to find the toughest and most cunning autonomous robotic vehicle.

The new DARPA Grand Challenge competition, set for November 2007, will require the robotic vehicles to basically drive better than many people, demonstrating the ability to merge politely into moving traffic, observe the right-of-way at intersections, flash appropriate turn signals and avoid maiming pedestrians.

Competitors are already worried.

Sebastian Thrun, the computer scientist who led Stanford University's winning team last year, said he was uncertain if any car could finish.

"People are going to be surprised how difficult it is," he said.

The goal of the Grand Challenge is to help speed the development of military vehicles that can make their way through hostile territory without human control, meeting a congressional mandate that 30% of the military's vehicle fleet be robots by 2015.

The urban environment will be a more realistic test for autonomous robots that the U.S. military hopes to use in its operations, said Jan Walker, a DARPA spokeswoman...