Grand DARPA Challenge

Who wants to be a millionaire?

The DARPA Challenge is not a game show but an event which has several robotics teams competing to see who has the fastest robot and who can stay in the running to win the million dollar prize!

Teams from around the country brought their robots to the California Motor Speedway to qualify for the event which begins on Saturday, March 13, 2004.  The stories behind the robots and their teams are as interesting and amazing as the robots themselves.  Here, in the pages of Imagiverse, some of these stories will be told after the team members have a chance to unwind after the competition.  Today, they are busy getting their robots to qualify for an approximate 100 mile trek across the desert from Barstow, California to Primm, Nevada.

The robots are autonomous vehicles of all types and sizes.  One of the smallest is the Blue Team's Ghostrider, a motorcycle which uses gyros to keep its balance.  The largest vehicle is Ohio State University's TerraMax.  Other teams chose to modify regular passenger vehicles like Axion Racing's Spirit of Kosrae, a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Team D.A.D.'s modified Toyota pickup truck and Palos Verde High School's modified Acura MDX.

The purpose of the DARPA Challenge is to "leverage American ingenuity to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technologies that can be applied to military requirements."  A byproduct of this challenge is to develop new technology that can be used for everyday purposes.  There's nothing better than a good challenge (and of course a million dollar prize) to inspire creative thinking and ingenuity.  All the teams have faced the challenge head on and 20 hope to qualify to compete on Saturday.  As time ticks down, teams are making last minute adjustments and testing their vehicles before heading off to Barstow for the start of the race.

By the end of the day on March 10th, four teams had completed the course: Carnegie Mellon's Sandstorm, Caltech's Bob, Virginia Tech's Cliff and SciAutonics' Avidor.  Win or lose, all the teams have demonstrated team work, perseverance, commitment and plenty of ingenuity.  Congratulations to all the teams for a job well done! Good luck!!




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