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DARPA Grand Challenge 3 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the robot-cabbie dept.
Meostro writes "DARPA announced the 3rd "Grand Challenge" today, The DARPA Urban Challenge. "To succeed, vehicles must autonomously obey traffic laws while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections and avoiding obstacles." This year's new twist is two tracks for entry: the first is the same as the previous two challenges (develop on your own without Gov't. funding), but the second involves "submitting a detailed proposal for up to $1 million of technology development funds." Here is the PDF press release ."
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DARPA Grand Challenge 3

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:34AM (#15244357) Journal
    As a tax paying citizen of the United States, it sure is frustrating to try to find the results of DARPA research.

    Yes, they do research in defense but shouldn't there be a little more than a tiny graphic or blurb about what work they're doing? Couldn't they at least take the time to write an abstract or 1-2 page paper with unclassified information on each project?

    Instead, I find the following links in the 'Archives' [darpa.mil]:
    My alma mater has produced better papers than this in these fields. I know that a lot of this stuff isn't classified and they list their programs on their sites, why can't they do a better job in showing the American public what they've done with our money?

    The Grand Challenge Forums [darpa.mil] are flooded with only vendors. Where are the designs and reports by the teams from older Grand Challenges? Why isn't this structured more like RoboCup where the learning algorithms are released every year so that future contestants can build on this?

    The fact that this contest isn't run in a more open way makes it seems like less of a "contest" and more of a "do our research for us!" kind of thing.
    • The fact that this contest isn't run in a more open way makes it seems like less of a "contest" and more of a "do our research for us!" kind of thing.


      forgive me but I think that is the whole point of these kind of contests.

      It is likely that DARPA has become incapable of inovation because of internal politics so they need to attract new ideas from the out side.

      This is all just my theory so take it with a grain of salt.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "It is likely that DARPA has become incapable of inovation because of internal politics so they need to attract new ideas from the out side."

        Um, Darpa is a think tank. They don't do actual research. It's been that way since the beginning.
      • Kinda like the State Science Institute in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
      • by odyaws (943577) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:27AM (#15244620)
        It is likely that DARPA has become incapable of inovation because of internal politics so they need to attract new ideas from the out side.
        DARPA is a funding agency, not a research institution. They actually have very few employees, who are mostly there to identify promising research areas and allocate money to invest in them. The actual research is done by academic and industrial research groups. Incidentally, many if not all of the DARPA project managers are actually very good research scientists and engineers who take 1-3 years away from their normal work to work for DARPA, not career bureaucrats (wow, that's a hard word to spell) mired in politics. Most of them really view it as an important public service.


      • You'd rather find out DARPA has handed out a $10B contract to a "regular" defense contractor to solve this particular problem in ten years, only to find out at year #9, they will need a seven year extension and have cost overruns of another $8B?

        A couple of years, a few million dollars as one carrot, the other two are establishing legitimacy in a captitalistic market looking for established technology, and finally, chest thumping in the geek world is a very, very tiny investment by comparison.

        Wouldn't
    • by odyaws (943577) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:22AM (#15244596)
      As a tax paying citizen of the United States, it sure is frustrating to try to find the results of DARPA research.

      Yes, they do research in defense but shouldn't there be a little more than a tiny graphic or blurb about what work they're doing? Couldn't they at least take the time to write an abstract or 1-2 page paper with unclassified information on each project?

      Try instead going to Google Scholar or another academic index and searching on the titles for various DARPA projects. Having worked on several DARPA-funded projects, I can tell you that there is generally a significant emphasis on publishing results. DARPA-sponsored work probably results in dozens or hundreds of articles in scientific journals a year, all of which are available to the public.

      When you say your alma mater "has produced better papers in these fields" you should have a look at the acknowledgements section of these papers. Chances are pretty good many of them will have a statement like "This work funded in part by DARPA (or NSF, etc) grant number XXX."

    • That IS their job. DARPA doesn't do any real research. They fund research projects at schools and in private industry.
    • Ummm, yeah. That's the way they're supposed to work.
    • "The fact that this contest isn't run in a more open way makes it seems like less of a "contest" and more of a "do our research for us!" kind of thing."

      Well, yes.

      This ISN'T about open technologies, this is about building up to a defense (warmaking) capability.

      On the one hand, you have to release a tiny bit of information, just so all the competitors have the same basic assumptions and stay in the same universe of solutions. On the other hand, you don't want to constrain the competitors too much with regard
    • I was/am on the Stanford team, we're publishing all over, first stuff will be out in RSS, then ICIP followed by a full description in a Journal. Note that due to write up/review/actual conference, there's often a year time lag.
  • by joe 155 (937621) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:37AM (#15244373) Journal
    ...how this can be "safe" (as far as it can be anyway) with cars which are automated going on roads for which the system works (I'm assuming most are based on the idea of staying within the white lines) I worry about this quote...

    We believe the robotics community is ready to tackle vehicle operation inside city limits. - Dr. Tony Tether, DARPA Director

    You can build the safest car in the world but there is always a need to be able to take a very quick decision to avoid some other idiot who might be breaking the rules of the road and not be in an automated car... still, if we all had them...
    • What I find a little scary is that two years ago not a single team finished the Darpa Grand Challenege. There were cars driving off into the desert, into fences, and through sand pits. They finally had finishers last year, but are we really ready to put these things on the street now?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        It's supposed to be hard and risky. This is the "DARPA Grand Challenge." Not the "DARPA Incremental Improvement."
        • Hehe, that reminds me of Mission Impossible 2.

          Anthony Hopkins: So you're saying that it would be difficult?
          Tom Cruise: Very.
          Hopkins: Well, Mr. Hunt, this is not Mission Difficult, this is Mission Impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you.

          Sorry for the OT.
        • But I wonder.. Who will be driving these other cars? Is that safe?

          They should have the creators of the autonoms cars drive on the street with their creation.

      • I'd be willing to bet these streets will be filled with drones or atleast stunt drivers will rollcages. They arn't going to run this experiment on an open street. Atleast I hope not!!

        Either way I wonder if these teams will be allowed to use the existing lane following/adaptive cruise control technology that exist in some of the highend cars (yes I know lane following doesn't exist in the US right now, but the technology does exist)
    • by GoatMonkey2112 (875417) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:42AM (#15244397)
      There are an awful lot of streets that do not have white lines, or have cars parked on both sides so that there is really only 1 real lane for traffic even though its a 2 way street. What does it do when it reaches an obstacle that avoiding it requires you to break the rules?

      You would needs some serious AI and pattern recognition to really replace drivers. There is just too much that can go wrong.

      • I think that is the point... Driving like chess has very basic rules that are easy to learn and difficult to master and on top of that you have the complicaton of other actors (other drivers) mixed in. In the end if you create an AI that can preform a task as complicated as driving that same AI should be able to learn to do just about anything
        • So you expect a chess playing computer to play calvin ball (ie rule changes spontaniously in the game) Most AI can't handle this, as most self driving cars in the future still won't be able to handle these things. What you will have are cars that self drive only on well marked roads, perferably with GPS indicators of what these roads are. You will be forced to manually drive small narrow roads.
          • Well my point is not that these AIs will play "Calvin Ball" but in developing driving AI that can deal with more and more unknowns or independant actors will lead to advances in computer science and robotics.
          • Are you saying that we shouldn't pursue the study of self driving cars simply because you believe it's a tough cookie to crack? Personally I am happy that DARPA is making real headway in a field that has such a monumentious task. The perverbial road is miles long and we can only take baby steps, but the impacts of the work will be incalculable.
            • Sorry, what I was trying to say was that we shouldn't expect self driving cars to be able to drive small streets yet. Eventually maybe, but yes, small steps.
            • Oh no, we should absolutely be looking at this technology. I'm just saying that we have a pretty long way to go to get there. It would be really fantastic if I could take a nap while riding in my car to work.

              I have to say that really good AI is most likely the next big thing in computers. It's a really complex problem though. Then you have pattern recognition on top of that. Just getting a computer to recognize a face is a difficult task that only has a certain percentage of accuracy.
    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:44AM (#15244407) Homepage Journal
      You can build the safest car in the world but there is always a need to be able to take a very quick decision to avoid some other idiot who might be breaking the rules of the road and not be in an automated car... still, if we all had them...

      I am not sure if you are concerned that they will run the test on the open road (I doubt it) or about the prospect of robots on the open road in the future. Personally I think a degree of automatic control would even now prevent some of the really stupid behavior I see every day riding my bike to and from work.

      Robot drivers will be somewhat better and somewhat worse than human drivers. This is true even today. It is nice that somebody is encouraging research.

    • sorry had to comment on your sig...

      You disagree with everything I just said, but I will defend to the death my right to say it

      in my mind should be:
      You disagree with everything I just said, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
      • What you had in mind was indeed the orriginal, often called Voltaire's dictum (sorry if I spelt that wrong) my sig is a somewhat nerdy joke about me considering that it is only my opinion which is worth dying for (for anyone) and that so long as I have freedom of speach it's all good... I suppose if I were to consider the nature of power I might find deeper ramifications to others not being able to speak out, I mean, if hegamonic marxism really is right then I might not notice one manifestation of the ideol
    • ...how this can be "safe" (as far as it can be anyway) with cars which are automated going on roads for which the system works.

      You can build the safest car in the world but there is always a need to be able to take a very quick decision to avoid some other idiot who might be breaking the rules of the road and not be in an automated car... still, if we all had them...


      How is it any less safe? If anything, the feature with which human beings far outsurpress computers is our ability to filter huge amounts
    • You can build the safest car in the world but there is always a need to be able to take a very quick decision to avoid some other idiot who might be breaking the rules of the road and not be in an automated car... still, if we all had them...

      I would argue that most people on the road are not able to do this while they drive. Whether they are actually capable if they are concentrating or anticipating is another matter.

      If it were easy with would neither be a challenge, nor be grand.

      Oh and don't worry human,

    • You can build the safest car in the world but there is always a need to be able to take a very quick decision to avoid some other idiot who might be breaking the rules of the road and not be in an automated car... still, if we all had them...

      That's where the D in DARPA comes in.
    • by Cais (682659)

      If you read the RTFPR, there's a little blurb at the bottom that explains:

      ABOUT THE DARPA GRAND CHALLENGE DARPA has sponsored two previous Grand Challenge competitions. The first was held in March 2004 and featured a 142-mile desert course. Fifteen autonomous ground vehicles attempted the course and no vehicle finished. In the 2005 Grand Challenge, four autonomous vehicles successfully completed a 132-mile desert route under the required 10-hour limit, and DARPA awarded a $2 million prize to "Stan

    • True AI (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MOBE2001 (263700)
      You can build the safest car in the world but there is always a need to be able to take a very quick decision to avoid some other idiot who might be breaking the rules of the road and not be in an automated car... still, if we all had them...

      This is the Grand Challenge I was really waiting for. I believe that the experience gained in the previous Grand Challenges is practically useless for this new one. This new challenge will involve true AI, that is, AI that has true general learning capabilities and the
    • Automated cars are something that is going to move at a really slow pace. They already are moving really slowly. It was probably 15 years ago that I first remember reading in Popular Mechanics about MIT (I think) instrumenting a big cargo van with the necessary sensors and computers to handle driving around a parking lot. They kept working on it year after year, improving their sensors and probably constantly rewriting their code, until maybe 6-7 years ago, they had it to the point where it all fit into a s
  • by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:39AM (#15244380) Homepage Journal
    "To succeed, vehicles must autonomously obey traffic laws while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections and avoiding obstacles."
    That's hardly fair, is it? Why should the robots have to do something that most people can't?
    • Ahh, memories of my drive into work this morning and terrible human drivers [slashdot.org]. At the very least, robotic cars might be deterministic (depending on algorithms), right?

    • Re:Hardly fair... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MindStalker (22827)
      Because if your follow the basic rules of the road (and have cameras at all blind spots) these things are easy. What concerns me is that this being a challenge teams won't work together which means that the cars will not have a universal set of rules for communicating, something really essential in autonomous cars.
      (IE a radio network in which cars can say, I'm turning left, or I'm about to change into the left lane) Sure these cars will have blinkers as well, but that hugely ineffective compared to the pre
      • Re:Hardly fair... (Score:3, Informative)

        by osgeek (239988)
        I'd rather they do it the hard way. Sure, it would make for an easier contest to have the cars communicate with each other; but if the goal here is to one day actually use this technology in the real world, how many kids on bicycles will have communication radios built into their bikes?

        • Good point. I was thinking that these cars should have radio communication AND the ability to use/recognize blinkers, etc. But if you assume that all communication you will receive will be minimal (ie drive like everyone might do something unexpected) your overall success in dealing with problems will be greater. Still would love to see an communication system between cars.. Many are the days I've seen a wreck about to happen that the drivers couldn't see and WISHED there was some effective way I could have
      • I think that's the point. They don't have control of their environment... and their environment now includes other cars for which they have no idea of their intentions. I mean, how often do you have direct communication with other drivers next to you?
        • Very often, by means of direction/break/reverse lights, headlight flashes, eye contact, gestures, short/long horn signs, more gestures, shouts, punching, and finally bullets.

          Seriously, to co-exist wth human drivers, the robots would have to interpret the subtle car and driver attitude changes and signals which are in fact non-documented language.

          My kids often ask the meaning of headlight blinks and horn signs. At least in Brazil, it's common use. For example:

          - two short horn signs generally means "thanks",
          • Okay, poorly worded question. When I said communication I was referring more to communication via radios or similar sort, which is what the post I responded to was talking about.
  • by Surur (694693)

    Its too early to go urban. They should have spent at least another 2-3 years perfecting autonomous navigation in unstructured environments.

    I know last year's challange seemed to be won rediculously easily, but I have seen no proof that that dormain has been fully conquered yet. If they wanted a challenge why not move onto wooded or swampy areas.

    In this case it seems they are juat setting themselves up to fail.

    Surur
    • by Tx (96709)

      In this case it seems they are juat setting themselves up to fail.


      No, they're setting a difficult task. Now look up the definition of "challenge". See?

      People said the same thing after the first challenge, but people got the hang of that pretty quickly, and from what I've read over the last couple of years, this challenge should be just about doable.
    • by edremy (36408) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:07AM (#15244519) Journal
      Two reasons: First, because this is what the Army needs, right now. Imagine a supply convoy moving around Iraq without drivers, just combat guards. Fewer drivers=fewer IED deaths + soldiers who can be actual soldiers and MPs, not truck drivers. (Then again, having been a support platoon leader, I'm not sure I want some of those drivers holding a gun...)

      Second, because it's a challenge! Last year's competition was not easy- look at the one two years ago, where most of the contestants barely made it out of the starting gate. (Or didn't) When proposed, it was an absurd reach- no robot had come anywhere close to the Grand Challenge specs; they were all busy managing 5-10 mph on easy courses. Nobody would have been interested if the challenge had been 10mph for 10 miles. Would they get the same number of entrants this year if the challenge was basically the same as before?

      I agree, this is a serious reach. But honestly, it's not impossible. You have a *lot* more to navigate by in the city- all sorts of yellow and white paint lines on the road, existing high-detail maps and standardized road signs. Most of the drive will be free of serious obstacles, although I assume DARPA will throw in a some shell holes and road blocks to make it interesting. The radars to track other cars already exist- you can buy a car today with sophisticated cruise control that maintains correct distances. My guess is that robots will be better in city driving than humans very soon- 360 degree radar, much faster reaction times, no Starbucks latte and cell phone...

      I suspect the next Grand Challenge will be something like "Start at Depot A, navigate across 300 miles of varying terrain, drop off at city center B". Speaking as that ex-platoon guy, most of the drivers in my unit couldn't *read*, much less read a map. They had to be led the entire way by someone who could. (Or at least, pretended he could- this was in the days before GPS.) Bring on the robots.

      • That's exactly right. I ran one of the Grand Challenge teams, Team Overbot [overbot.com], and we made it to the NQE. It's clear where DARPA is going, and they're getting there faster than they expected. There were 43 autonomous vehicles at the NQE, and all of them more or less worked. Five finished the course, and most of the 23 that started the course probably could have finished with minor improvements. This is way ahead of anything previously seen in robotics.

        The big challenge this time is that now real situati

    • Just 1 team has to "win", and win doesn't have to be a complete success. If they can demonstrate the technology is 70, 80, even 90% there then that technology can be taken from the contestants and worked on in industry.

    • In this case it seems they are juat setting themselves up to fail.

      Absolutely. What, you expected a "Grand Challenge" to be passed the first time? What kind of challenge would that be?

      Ask the impossible of people, or you won't get any progress.

    • Your thinking is entirely wrong here: lets hope its not too late for urban driving! Watching cars move on a road at high speeds is boring. Watching those nascars hit the wall and spin around at 200 mph however, entertainment!
  • by twiddlingbits (707452) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:47AM (#15244427)
    Let's make this real, vehicles must be equipped to : Avoid hub-cap thieves. Deal with homeless window-washers. Handle crazy taxi-cab drivers. Deal with traffic detours and malfunctioning signals. Understand parking, loading, no stopping and no standing zones. Not run over pedestrians who jaywalk. Avoid accident scences/traffic congestion by planning on-the-fly alternate routes. Be able to pay Tolls. Stop, Look, Listen at Railroad crossings. Be able to do this in even in Snow conditions. Properly prepared, an urban course will be MORE challenging than the Desert course. Sure terrian won't be such an issue but the environment is much more dynamic, and the weather is still a factor.
  • readiness? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PresidentEnder (849024) <{wyvernender} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:50AM (#15244439) Journal
    "Grand Challenge 2005 proved that autonomous ground vehicles can travel significant distances and reach their destination, just as you or I would drive from one city to the next," said DARPA Director Dr. Tony Tether. "After the success of this event, we believe the robotics community is ready to tackle vehicle operation inside city limits."

    I'm not going to speculate as to whether the robotics community is "ready" for this challenge, but what do the two challenges have to do with each other from a technical standpoint? In the previous challenges, vision wasn't good enough to tell a boulder from a bush. Are they going to give the robots the GPS location of all the stop signs and traffic circles? If they do, how well would this apply to a city where not all GPS locations are known? If not, how will it differentiate signs from one another and from random stuff in the background?

    I'll be impressed with no crashing into each other, before they worry about compliance with all traffic laws. How will the robots recognize the speed limit in their area, or will they all crawl along at 10 mph, impeding the flow of traffic?

    • or will they all crawl along at 10 mph, impeding the flow of traffic?

      That would be an awesome legitimate target for the "road rage".

    • Re:readiness? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by odyaws (943577)
      I'll be impressed with no crashing into each other, before they worry about compliance with all traffic laws. How will the robots recognize the speed limit in their area, or will they all crawl along at 10 mph, impeding the flow of traffic?
      Um, that's why they call it a "challenge" - because they don't know how to solve the problems yet. If it weren't really hard there would be no need to do this sort of contest.
    • Re:readiness? (Score:4, Informative)

      by lbrandy (923907) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:44AM (#15244734)
      Are they going to give the robots the GPS location of all the stop signs and traffic circles? If they do, how well would this apply to a city where not all GPS locations are known? If not, how will it differentiate signs from one another and from random stuff in the background?

      The point of these challenges isn't to set one-year goals. An urban enviornment sets up a hugely more complicated affair that will requires years of failure before success. The complexity of the task goes up an order of magnitude.. however you are definitely hung up on the wrong problems. Signs occur at predictable locations, move in predictable ways, have predictable shapes, and use predictable colors. Someone with an introductory graduate course in computer vision could write a "sign" detector that is pretty robust.
    • Re:readiness? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Zathrus (232140) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @10:19AM (#15244966) Homepage
      but what do the two challenges have to do with each other from a technical standpoint?

      When you boil it down, they're the exact same thing -- this is just a couple orders of magnitude more difficult. The previous challenge didn't have them dealing with any dynamic variables -- no passing vehicles, no being passed by vehicles, no boulders rolling off a mountain, etc.

      And if you're going to solve those problems, why not do it for real? A boulder falling off the side of the road is reasonably uncommon. A car cutting you off is not (n.b. -- the challenge doesn't actually talk about this as an issue, and it may not be; we'll know more after May 20).

      It's still all about road detection, object detection, and avoidance. And you're asking what they have to do with each other technically?

      Are they going to give the robots the GPS location of all the stop signs and traffic circles?

      Again, we won't know until after the Participant Conference on May 20, but I'd actually suspect they will, along with info on what speed limits apply in different areas (as they did last time). This is not unreasonable -- GPS mapping a city is pretty trivial when it comes down to it, and I doubt that the challenge is geared toward being fully dynamic -- e.g. you'll still follow a predetermined route, there won't be sudden changes in traffic rules (no road crews), and so forth.

      That said, even if you have full GPS info on stop signs and so forth the most that's useful for is that you need to be watching out for a sign coming up soon. GPS isn't accurate enough (at least on a moving vehicle) to rely on it for road signs -- coming to a complete stop 3m beyond the stop sign doesn't work so well. So they'll still have to visually recognize a lot of traffic signage.

      In some ways this will be easier than the previous challenge -- this is all low speed, so the issue of not being able to process the incoming data in real time will be reduced. On the flip side, you'll have to process a lot more data this time -- as you said, you must be able to recognize the difference between a boulder and a bush for this challenge.

      I'll be impressed with no crashing into each other, before they worry about compliance with all traffic laws.

      I'll be absolutely stunned if anyone succeeds this year, and moderately surprised if anyone succeeds at the one after.

      But once this is complete, on to the next challenge -- mixed mode driving (urban, suburban, highway, maybe offroad). Then you can't tailor your algorithm toward a specific goal.
      • How is GPS not accurate enough for stopping? We can land planes or fly small helicopters with cm accuracy with differential GPS and WASS, stopping a motor vehicle is trivial by comparison.
        • Yes, there are even mm-precision GPS, but who can assure their accuracy on a urban environment, with potential sky view obstructions and multipath due to reflections? That doesn't happen on airpot runways. Narrow streets with buildings on both sides and trees would make the system useless.

          Some (all?) in-car navigation systems use the map itself to correct for GPS errors (the software "knows" you can't be turning where there is no street, so it offsets you to the nearest possible street and computes that off
        • BTW, it's WAAS, and WAAS -is- differential GPS, and these alone won't give you cm accuracy. The cm and mm accuracy are obtained by other means.
    • I had an idea about the navigation within cities when I was in high school. I figure that letting the stop signs themselves broadcast a signal with some basic information about themselves would allow computers within cars to navigate based on those signals. For example, speed limit signs could tell you the speed to go at, stop signs could tell you their lat/long coordinates and you could calculate how to stop. Other cars could also give you their positions and you could navigate around accidents and stal
      • While the basic concept is sound, practical implementation leads to some basic problems.

        First, and the most obvious, is the cost involved. That's a whole lot of infrastructure to set up, and the equipment isn't exactly cheap. Consider that simply replacing the highways signs in any moderate-sized state costs millions of dollars - and that's just for painted sheet metal, and the labor to put them up. Those costs would multiply when you have to have powered radio transmitters on the signs, as well.

        Second, it
        • To address your points.

          First - the signs wouldn't have to be rebuilt. Only an rfid tag added to each sign. That would of course cost a lot but wouldn't require metalwork or painting.

          Second - I agree, totally. I think a supplemental intelligent adaptive system could let the user know that they need to drive, park the car and go into manual. The system definitely would not work with non-compliant cars or signs around.

          Third - meh war, who needs it? Lets work on peace... oh? DARPA you say? Hm... : )

          I thin
          • Where did you get the idea that there was a server involved? If this is anything like the original Grand Challenge, the vehicles won't be allowed to contact any external servers while they're running the course. They'll be given maps of the area with GPS coordinates before they run the course, but while they're running the course they'll have to do everything on their own. No querying some hypothetical traffic server for these autonomous vehicles - they have to be able to run the course based solely on thei
  • Any teams in the Detroit area? Non-academic ones? This would be a really cool thing to work on full time.
  • by JustASlashDotGuy (905444) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:01AM (#15244496)

    I wonder if you get extra points for having your car honk its horn at
    other drivers and extend it's little robotic middle finger at anyone that
    gets in its way?
  • Sure, 'auto car' is cool, but with the world today why not shift to something that will help us all, like a new energy source, food, etc..
    • Oh, right, because you are a troll and couldn't give a rat's ass about the plight of others. This is the oldest troll in the book: some cool new thing comes along and some asshat who has never helped another human being in his life says, "What a waste of time! What about all the starving orphans in Africa?" or some such shit. Go crawl back under your bridge, troll, and let the grown ups talk.
    • Something that will help us all like reducing the amount our fellow citizens in the Army need to expose themselves to the enemy? Or how about improving traffic safety by reducing stupid driver mistakes? Maybe allowing long haul truckers to reduce driving at less efficient speeds in order to minimize the cost of driver labor? That's just scratching the surface of what automated vehicle control might offer in the future.

      And by the way, I'm almost positive DARPA funds a lot of energy research, too. Lastly,
  • by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:36AM (#15244667) Journal
    Bagdad. Unmanned Military Ground Vehicles. Primarily for supply runs, but could also be used to troll for IEDs.
  • ... if they have alert drivers in the other cars, and ... if they select an urban area which is in decent repair, and ... if they allow ideal driving conditions like the last race.

    Think about it. City driving is designed to be easy. In fact it is really really easy. You are told exactly where to go with visible lines, lights, signs, etc which are all designed to be noticed and easily intepreted.

    The hardest part of GC1 was finding the road! When it's layed out for you nice and easy.... man thats a cakewalk.

    D
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Think about it. City driving is designed to be easy. In fact it is really really easy. You are told exactly where to go with visible lines, lights, signs, etc which are all designed to be noticed and easily intepreted.

      Yeah - there's lots of information, and that's the problem. You're not just concerned about finding the road and avoiding obstacles as in the desert challange, but rather are in the middle of a rapidly changing environment that's presenting an information overload (unpredictably moving cars, p
    • More important from a competition standpoint, the course will therefore become a lot more random for competing robotic vehicles. When it was just desert, most of the landscape was fairly static and the robots faced the same course. Now, unless they automate the other cars, there will likely be a huge variability between what one car faces and what the other has to deal with. Then again, you could just automate them all... although if one AI goes haywire, I don't know if the rest would be ready to deal with
    • The best you can do in real life is drive defensively, leave time to react, and be aware of your surroundings. Those behaviors don't end collisions, but they might minimize them.

      There are so many variables to keep track of, and so many possible scenarios, that a data miner probably can't handle the complexity of "that guy is swerving and changing lanes without signaling, so I'd better keep my distance from him to the extent that I can". It probably requires some kind of reasoning agent with a specialized vo
  • Humans can't navigate traffic circles (at least here in the U.S.), why should we expect robot to be able to? Then again, robots don't have "a**hole driver" functionality and generally are far better trained than human drivers.
  • by mabu (178417)
    Will the DARPA challengers have to use turning signals?

    If so this will be impressive, as at least half the driving population of the United States is unable to utilize that technology consistently.
  • There's got to be at least one team who has considered using a black Pontiac TransAm complete with red scanner on the front. C'mon people, make it happen!
  • by ax2groin (543892)

    Why is it that every time I hear a story about efforts to improve vehicles, I say to myself, "Gee, hasn't that been done already?" All these efforts seem to have one thing in mind: get a car to act like a train, that way we can continue subsidising the auto/oil/rubber industries with the needless purchase of more individual rail cars.

    How about a challenge to develop real public transit in the U.S.?

    Sorry, I live in L.A. and I'm bitter.

    • You have a basic problem with transit in Los Angeles. It's a "medium density" city. This means that if you build transit stations such that there are enogh of them so that one is always within reasonable walking distance then each station will searve far to few people and transit user will be anoyed at the slow rate of travel doue to the hundreds of stops at stations where only one or two people get on or off. But if you build fewer stations the travel time is reduced but fewer people can walk to the sta
  • Can you imagine what would happen if you put an idiot driver in a robot controlled car, and the AI encountered a conundrum, i.e. a blocked one way or something that required the driver take control? That idiot is going to be in a situation where his idiocy will endanger everyone around him and probably not have been paying attention while the AI was driving so will be all that more "lost"
    • Can you imagine what would happen if you put an idiot driver in a robot controlled car, and the AI encountered a conundrum, i.e. a blocked one way or something that required the driver take control?

      The point of these challenges is to not have any humans in the car. Otherewise, the IED problem would still be a threat.
  • obey traffic laws

    Chicago traffic/parking laws are cleverly designed to trip up & get a few bucks out of the uninitiated. Examples: 1. no left turn at some intersections 2. other intersections, no right turn on red between 7am-7pm. The notice is posted on the signal closest to your car, so it's harder to see unless you look for it. 3. No street parking during the afternoon rush hour. Signs poorly visible 4. At some intersections, right turn or left turn only on an arrow signal. 5. No parking after 5p
  • Team DAD, two self-funded brothers working on their own, were the leaders in the second Grand Challenge, beating Stanford's Stanley and both CMU vehicles, for a good portion of the race; before it crashed because a bolt came lose. (Man, they must have been kicking themselves over that bolt.)

    Anyway, that's quite impressive for two guys with jobs working part time, on their own, out-of-pocket to be in any way competitive with the CMU and Stanford teams. I hope they're up to this urban challenge and get the

    • I've met the Team Dad guys and am impressed with them, but bear in mind that they own an electronics company, with experienced people on tap who can build custom electronics. It's not two guys working alone.
      • The NOVA made it look like they have a company that makes stereo speakers (probably not a lot of crossover applications to autonomous robotics), and it did make it look like they did this on their own, not that they were paying others to help out. It did look like one of them was devoting most of his time to this project, not to work. And they're probably still well off, but still, compared to Stanford or CMU, with millions in funding, and as many as a hundred nearly full-time people working on the project
  • "My other car needs a human"
  • I saw the last one (Stanley), and I must say that it's skills left me a little under the.... under.....
    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=28756 [theinquirer.net]
    Either way, my insurance company is still trying to go after the estate of a Mr. Babbage, but are having a hard time tracking him down.

                -Charlie
  • We all know what will happen when the first urban challenge takes place.
    1. It'll be run in Los Angeles.
    2. The vehicle in front will have a bug in its software that causes it go off course and on to the LA Freeway.
    3. It will be chased by 50 police cars and 5 news helicopters.
    4. The chase will end when some guy with a samurai sword cuts the vehicle's wheels out from under it and shoots the gas tank when it rolls over.

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