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DARPA Grand Challenge Results October 8, 2005

Posted by theexpert in Technology.
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UPDATE (@21:55): News.com has an article on the race today and a good collection of articles about the history of the Challenge, including photos of the vehicles.

The San Francisco Gate reports that three remote control-free, robotic vehicles finished DARPA’s Grand Challenge today. From the article:

Vehicles have to drive on rough, winding desert roads and dry lake beds filled with overhanging brush and man-made obstacles. The machines also must traverse a narrow 1.3-mile mountain pass with a steep drop-off and go through three tunnels designed to knock out their GPS signals.

and:

The vehicles were tricked out with the latest sensors, lasers, cameras and radar that feed information to several onboard computers. This, in turn, helps vehicles make intelligent decisions such as distinguishing a dangerous boulder from a tumbleweed and calculating whether a chasm is too deep to cross.

and:

The so-called Grand Challenge race is part of the Pentagon’s effort to cut the risk of casualties by fulfilling a congressional mandate to have a third of all military ground vehicles unmanned by 2015.

The congressional mandate is discussed in H.R. 5408, section 220:

SEC. 220. UNMANNED ADVANCED CAPABILITY COMBAT AIRCRAFT AND GROUND COMBAT VEHICLES.

    (a) GOAL- It shall be a goal of the Armed Forces to achieve the fielding of unmanned, remotely controlled technology such that–
    (1) by 2010, one-third of the aircraft in the operational deep strike force aircraft fleet are unmanned; and
    (2) by 2015, one-third of the operational ground combat vehicles are unmanned.

If this sort of thing interests you, I would suggest taking a look at Marshall Brain‘s Robotic Nation blog, which I’m guessing this piece of news will show up on.

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