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Stanford's Stanley wins DARPA Grand Challenge 239

tonyquan writes "DARPA has just announced that Stanford's "Stanley" autonomous ground vehicle has won the Grand Challenge, a $2 million contest for driverless vehicles over a 132 mile course in California's Mohave Desert. Stanley's winning time over the course was 6 hours, 53 minutes and 58 seconds, for an average speed of 19.1 mph. Second was Carnegie Mellon's Sandstorm (7:04:50), third went to another CMU vehicle "H1ghlander" (7:14:00) and fourth to the Gray Team's KAT-5 (7:30:16) More info from DARPA."
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Stanford's Stanley wins DARPA Grand Challenge

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  • so wait.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by molo ( 94384 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:16AM (#13755962) Journal
    Last year they had NO vehicles even make it out of the obstacle course.. and this year they had several vehicles actually complete the desert course?? What gives?

    • Re:so wait.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dohzer ( 867770 )
      I don't think it shows a great advance in robotics and A.I. (although that is partly responsible), more just an advance in how they handled the DARPA Grand Challenge. If DARPA gave them a different challenge of similar difficulty, it might take them a few years to finish again.
      • Re:so wait.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by EEJD ( 901217 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:44AM (#13756133)
        It's not so much an improvement in the AI as it is an improvement in the sensors. These vehicles look ahead about 30 feet and plot their course based on very simple logic. If there is a negative obstacle (a hole), it is more difficult for sensors to detect than if there is a rock sticking up in the path. Last race, the only thing that stopped red team was a hairpin turn. Their sensors looked straight ahead and only a little to the sides, but when faced with the hairpin turn, the vehicle almost fell off the side of the mountain! But the rules of the AI haven't changed much- just the sensors. If you're driving through jungle, for example, you have to have sensors that don't see leaves as obstacles. Otherwise the path will look totally impassable.
        • Luckily, there are very few trees on Mars! One of the stated objectives of the DARPA Grand Challenge was to contributed to unmanned missions to Mars, etc. The main reason for having a totally autonomous system (as opposed to one that responds to remote control) is for when the lag time for remote control is too large.

          Granted, the tree observation does potentially limit Terran deployments.

          • Re:Luckily... (Score:5, Informative)

            by CreatureComfort ( 741652 ) * on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:16AM (#13756754)

            Actually, planetary rovers are just a tiny, tiny portion of the reason for this challenge, otherwise NASA would be sponsoring this, not DARPA. The primary reason for this challenge is for troop supply and support vehicles that can accompany troops into a battlefield, or be sent in autonomously. Which means the jungle scenario is non-trivial. One of the reasons the challenge is being held where it is, is due to the development lifetime projected force deployments being in mainly desert regions. Another major projected use for these kinds of vehicles is for deployment in a bio-hazardous area for testing and sampling in an autonomous measure. But once again, the is a DARPA challenge, not a CDC one.

        • Sensors (Score:2, Interesting)

          That makes sense. I used to do some work with mobile robots at Brown University's AI lab, and I found that the difficulties were all about sensors. Once you could turn the physical obstacles into data abstractions and once you knew where the robot was in relation to them, the algorithms were pretty darned easy. I used to walk around pretending that I only had the information available to the robot and see how I did, with human intelligence, at avoiding obstacles. Our vision system was very slow and took 3 s
    • And, most of them were pretty close time-wise. The winner was only about 10 minutes or so ahead of the 2nd place finisher. From zero to five competitive finishers...of course all of these results will only be put to peaceful purposes. Isn't Darpa like a branch of the Peace Corps???

    • They learned from their mistakes is what happened.

      The boys in the military must be gibbering with joy. Imagine an armored vehicle that can recognize friend or foe. Just set this baby loose and watch the fun.

      But the civillian benefits are going to be cool too. For instance, screw magnets imbedded in roads, etc. Just use the roads we have now and tell the vehicle where you want to go.
      • Imagine an armored vehicle that can recognize friend or foe.

        Given that humans have enough problems doing that (friendly fire incidents anyone?), I think you can forget about a completely autonomous armed vehicle for quite some time. Even the Hellfire armed Predators require a human for fire control... it's just that the human can be on the other side of the planet (and often is).

        But the civillian benefits are going to be cool too. For instance, screw magnets imbedded in roads, etc. Just use the roads we hav
    • Re:so wait.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:46AM (#13756142) Homepage
      There are several factors here. First and formost, the vehicles are more capable. The software is vastly better and the hardware is somewhat improved. Did you think that they've been sitting around doing nothing for the past 17 months? They've been working on improvements since the last challenge, and they've spent a lot more time actually testing their vehicles in desert terrain.

      There are some people who say that this year's course is far easier than last year's. I don't know myself -- I'm not involved with any of the teams and I don't have detailed knowledge of the courses. But there has been some commentary by those involved to this effect, as well as from bystanders. One huge difference is that the most difficult part of the course (Beer Bottle Pass, a narrow road with a steep drop off on one side) was at the end of the course this year, while the equivalent part was near the start last year. Stanford's leader is quoted as saying something to the effect that if they'd inverted last year's course then a lot of cars would've gone much further, even if none of them finished. The complete lack of media attention last year may have been one reason why DARPA swapped the course around -- it's rather anti-climactic to write about a race where the best racer hardly even got off the finish line and leads to the kind of stories DARPA really doesn't want to see (waste of taxpayer money, will never work, etc.).

      In any case, given that less than 25% of the vehicles finished, I'd hardly say that it was a trivial thing to do. It's still amazing. Congrats to those who did, and to all of those who participated for that matter -- it's quite an accomplishment, even if there's a long way to go still before this is really usable in a real world environment.
      • The interview with the Stanford team lead also said that last year, there was talk of the course being much harder and 300 miles long, so teams over-engineered their vehicles. This year they had a much better idea of what the course would be like, so they could spend their time better.
      • Re:so wait.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        It should also be mentioned that at least the Stanford team and the CMU team claim to have completed the old course while preparing for this year's event. So even if this year's course is easier, there are some teams that completed the old course anyhow. Obviously this wasn't under race conditions (the most important condition being that you don't know the course until just before the race) but it is still relevant.
    • Last year they had NO vehicles even make it out of the obstacle course.. and this year they had several vehicles actually complete the desert course?? What gives?

      Corporate Sponsorship and Moore's Law
    • Re:so wait.. (Score:2, Informative)

      by gers0667 ( 459800 )
      A friend of mine was on the CMU team. One of this years robots was in last years competition. Of course they made enhancements to the robot, but the biggest problem they had with it was that they rolled the robot 3 days before the competition. They were pushing the robot to the limits on a test track and went too far, according to my friend. He said they would have faired much better, but when a Hummer filled with computers rolls over, you are bound to have some problems.
    • What gives?

      Obviously, an infusion of alien technology must be involved. There is no other explanation.
  • Good news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Data Link Layer ( 743774 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:16AM (#13755964)
    I honestly didn't think this contest would ever be won. Maybe in 20 years we can have auto driving cars that can make it so there is next to 0 car accidents.
    • Re:Good news (Score:2, Interesting)

      by freg ( 859413 )
      I'm fully confident in our ability to make good software to meet ever increasing challenges, even to the point that we can have smart cars who take over driving if the driver is incapacitated. But to have a car drive me around on its own free will is a level of trust I wouldn't leave with Microsoft or any car manufacturer around today.
      • I would, I sure as hell couldn't build/design a car, much less one that'd pass the strict federal safety guidelines. If not them, then who?
        • Re:Good news (Score:4, Informative)

          by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas&dsminc-corp,com> on Monday October 10, 2005 @10:07AM (#13756261) Homepage
          Funny building a car isn't that hard the power plant is rather complicated but the rest can be made of some nice tube stock and sheet metal for the most part. Granted it wont ride as nice as most commercial cars but it will stand up in an accident better than any of them. Granted I'm talking about good old fashion dune buggy with sheet metal attached. Never had any federal guide line issues just one state inspector made sure nothing would fall off and the wheels were covered.
          • Re:Good news (Score:4, Insightful)

            by rjstanford ( 69735 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:20AM (#13756786) Homepage Journal
            Granted it wont ride as nice as most commercial cars but it will stand up in an accident better than any of them.

            Personally, I'd rather have a car designed to absorb that impact at the cost of itself rather than just passing it along to me... heck, maybe I'm just weird that way. Forces have to go somewhere, don't'cha know.
          • Re:Good news (Score:5, Interesting)

            by lowrydr310 ( 830514 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:21PM (#13757341)
            Is your dune buggy street legal?

            It's funny how our laws are written. I know a guy who built a Lamborghini Countach kit car out of some steel tubing, a pre-made fiberglass body, and an engine that isn't even close to passing federal emission laws. He had no problems getting it inspected, registered, and getting a license plate for it. Custom choppers are the same: It's easy to weld some tubing together and slap on wheels, an engine, and a transmission and you're out on the streets in no time!

            I want to import a new Toyota Hilux diesel pickup because a compact diesel pickup truck isn't available in the USA. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to do this because it hasn't been tested against US crash standards and the engine isn't EPA certified (despite being less polluting than just about any diesel engine currently offered in the USA).

      • Re:Good news (Score:2, Interesting)

        But to have a car drive me around on its own free will is a level of trust I wouldn't leave with Microsoft or any car manufacturer around today.

        I would certainly let a computer drive me around in a car -- whenever I fly somewhere I'm already trusting my life to a computer.

        Modern commercial passanger airplanes come with fly-by-wire flight control system. That means that the onboard computers essentially decide whether or not to adjust the flight surfaces according to the pilot's wishes -- if the computer

        • Re:Good news (Score:3, Insightful)

          by prefect42 ( 141309 )
          Aircraft on autopilot aren't exactly good at avoiding flocks of birds and the like though are they?

          The skies are a blissful place compared to the M25 on a friday night. The navigation side is easy, avoiding next doors dog is hard.
          • ...with DUI in ye olden days, because no matter how snookered you got, old dobbin knew the way home. If you could make it into the saddle, the rest was biological guidance system that could function quite well with little to no input from the pilot/driver/operator. The fuel source was environmentally friendly and sustainable as well, heh. Solar powered, intelligent and self replicating, something to be said for the "old ways".
          • Aircraft on autopilot are out of range of birds...
            • Two things.

              You'd be surprised how high birds fly, reportedly up to around 20,000 feet. You'll be using Autopilot *way* below that.

              Fully automated landings are hardly something new.
      • I would be more than willing to let the machines drive me around for the parts of my journey that were on limited-access, multi-lane highways that had the appropriate infrastructure for the machines. I travel (mostly) to get places, and if I can get there without the boring bits demanding my attention (and consequent risks if my attention wanders), so much the better.

        The choice of conditions reduces the problem space. I don't need to trust my car to do the right thing when a kid chases a ball out into the
    • Maybe in 20 years we can have auto driving cars that can make it so there is next to 0 car accidents.

      This is problematic [slashdot.org].
    • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @10:06AM (#13756242) Homepage Journal
      Maybe in 20 years we can have auto driving cars

      I can already imagine the following scene:
      You: *steps in car* "Drive me to uncle George?"
      Car: "Why do you want me to drive to uncle George"
      You: "Because it's his birthday, dammit. Now start driving!"
      Car: "You seem to be a bit angry. Where does this anger come from?"
      You: "Start DRIVING you gas-guzzling piece of shit!"
      Car: *accelerates to 100mph* *dumps core*

    • Re:Good news (Score:2, Informative)

      Maybe in 20 years we can have auto driving cars that can make it so there is next to 0 car accidents.

      Unless those are much requested "flying cars" there is next to 0 chance to create this for legal reasons. Families of walking city crowd killed by such cars would demand trillions from car makers each day. So, car companies will rather leave _you_ responsible. If auto driving cars are flying, thats another story. Without any way to switch to "manual" navigation, accidents could really be eliminated. Users
      • The intial phase of automatic driving cars would only be on freeways in a special lane. The cars would communicate with each other in a limited fashion and form very efficient "trains" following relatively closely. The car would be capable of moving in such a lane, and merging into and out of that lane, but little else.

        Once people find that the automatic lane saves 10-15 minutes or more (cars don't rubberneck, they can all accelerate/decellerate as a train, etc) then they will upgrade to have the units
        • The trouble is, how would you merge? You would need to be driving alongside the auto lane on manual as you switched to automatic, which then leaves the car the decidedly tricky job of working out *exactly* how to get from what you were doing to what it should be doing without damaging anything in the automatic lane, or accelerating into the back of the car in front of you. Merging out would be even worse, since you would be coming off a fully automatic lane at say 100mph, into a flow of manual traffic. The
      • Users would be allowed only to choose target location from pre-defined set on iPod-like dialer.
        Great. Would each location cost 99 cents? Would I have to repurchase these locations if I upgrade my car? Would I be allowed to use these location in my wife's car, or allow her to borrow my locations?

        Just kidding around. I like this contest. If we had to go into battle, I'd rather throw a few million dollars of robots there, then our children.

    • Re:Good news (Score:3, Insightful)

      Where I grew up, as long as there are deer, there will be accidents :)
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:17AM (#13755969) Homepage
    Less than 20mph in an SUV through the desert. These Robot control cars are worse than my Grandmother on an interstate.

    Quite clearly these Robot controlled cars are part of a sophisticated plot to increase the amount of road rage in the US to enable the Robots to take over the country... and then the world.

    It is not too late to stop them, we must insist that the next competition involves only Ford Broncos and takes place on the Freeways of Los Angeles during rush hour.
  • Patriotism... sigh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    DARPA Grand Challange - Harnessing American Ingenuity [grandchallenge.org] ... as it turns out, the leader of the winning Stanford car team is a German [stanford.edu].
    • by reed ( 19777 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:32AM (#13756049) Homepage
      Well, so were Einstein, Werner von Braun... etc. :)
    • It ain't the vehicle, it's the robotics!

      Completing the Grand Challenge has very little to do with the vehicle chosen, and nearly everything to do with the robotics that drive the thing. VW sponsored the team, so they used a VW vehicle.

      The only reason the VW vehicle finished, and finished first, is because the team from Stanford is made of briliant people. I'm sure they would have won with a Jeep, Hummer, Ford or whatever.

      My congratulations to all of the teams that finished. That was a difficult problem.
    • This is America... we don't breed the smartest people in the world, we just attract them from wherever they happen to have been born. Ultimately, the ability to attract the brightest, most highly motivated people from all over the world has always been America's only real advantage.
  • How few remain (Score:5, Informative)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:18AM (#13755975) Journal
    Looking at the final stats on the Grand Challenge website [grandchallenge.org], it would seem that only five teams, out of the 23 that made the finals, were able to finish the course. The team that got the farthest before calling it quits managed about 80 miles, which means that the cut between those who made it and those who didn't was still pretty big. Another interesting thing about the final results is that, if you look at the pretty red and blue graph lines, they describe what looks like a sort of decaying function...

    Or perhaps I'm just a dork.
    • Re:How few remain (Score:3, Interesting)

      by knix ( 555545 )
      I believe that team, Team ENSCO just blew a tire. They were doing very well and on pace to win I think until they had a mechanical malfunction, not a computer malfunction.
      • Someone from ENSCO said they suspected that the blown tire may have actually been due to a computer malfunction. The jury is still out until they do a detailed analysis of the logs.
      • Re:How few remain (Score:5, Informative)

        by zurmikopa ( 460568 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:44PM (#13757991) Homepage
        They blew a tire and were somewhere around 60 feet off course when they were eliminated, if I remember correctly.

        I know that a good number of the teams were actually still moving when they were eliminated; they had generally just wandered far enough off course that it was determined that they would be unable to finish.

        There were a number of reasons why people did so much better this year than last year.

        The biggest reason I think is that people knew a little better what to expect this year, and focused development on more important items for the race. For instance, for the first race I had done work on using a terrain database for path planning, but it turned out that the waypoints are so close together that it ends up just being a waste of CPU cycles for the most part.

        Another important reason is there was a rather large jump in the quality of the software running on the bots, and a moderate jump in the quality of the hardware. The integration was much more refined.

        Finally, the course was easier overall this year and the difficult part was put near the end. There was nothing in the course really comparable to Daggett ridge from the first race. Also, pretty much the entire course was graded along with the edges of the road often had banks. We had cliff detection that pretty much went unused this year due to this.

        Overall, it was a pretty good race this year. Stanford did an awesome job and really deserved the win. Not that you guys have that much interest, but we (Axion) ended up in 7th place (right after Ensco) with about 66 miles. We ended up getting stuck in some sand. The current candidate for the cause is a broken sway arm bracket that caused us to pull to the right a bit. Further analysis will be required to determine if that's actually the case.

  • by Elrac ( 314784 ) <carl@smTWAINotricz.com minus author> on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:19AM (#13755989) Homepage Journal
    While I'm happy that these hard-working academics were successful, I can't help but note the downside to this development.

    Forget military applications. What I foresee is that, for computer scientists who've lost their jobs to outsourcing, this will deprive them of one more alternative, namely a career as a taxi/truck/bus/etc driver.
  • News? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Darpa has just announced? I read this in my morning paper (in the UK) several hours ago.
  • by SamuraiMike ( 768946 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:33AM (#13756056)
    "Drivers unnecessary"
  • More info (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:34AM (#13756060) Homepage
    For far better info than the anemic (and completely flash based) gc.org site:

    http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/discussion.htm l [darpa.mil] -- DARPA's GC message boards
    http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/08/darpagrandchalle nge2005/ [tgdaily.com] -- Was updated throughout the actual event. Best coverage I've seen yet.
    http://www.popsci.com/popsci/darpachallenge/ [popsci.com] -- Popular Science's rather disorganized site

    I'm still looking for "highlight" video myself... or pretty much any non-bland video (seeing them cross the finish line is nifty and all, but that was not a challenging part of the race). I particularly want video of Alice trying to take out some reporters!
  • 01001001001000000111000001110111011011100110010101 10010000100000011110010110111101110101001000000110 0001011011000110110000101110
    • 01001001001000000111000001110111011011100110010101 10010000100000011110010110111101110101001000000110 0001011011000110110000101110

      For the binary impaired: "I pwned you all."

  • Driverless? (Score:3, Funny)

    by cciRRus ( 889392 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @10:04AM (#13756234)

    a $2 million contest for driverless vehicles over a 132 mile course in California's Mohave Desert.

    The car is powered by 7 Pentium M laptops [newscientist.com]. No drivers? Are the laptops running in Safe Mode? Ah, that explains why its average speed is 19.1mph.

    • The car is powered by 7 Pentium M laptops [newscientist.com]. No drivers? Are the laptops running in Safe Mode? Ah, that explains why its average speed is 19.1mph.

      The cars powered with AMD chips averaged about 80mph... til they overheated in the desert sun in 5 minutes after starting. The Mac G5's drained all the power cars batteries before they left the starting point. The team that used Sun Sparcs couldn't afford gas for the entire trip. The secretley re-released new Cyrix (remember them) powered cars ran
    • a $2 million contest for driverless vehicles over a 132 mile course

      Wow, that's $15,152 per mile.

      I thought I was doing good to get $0.48/mile for work.

  • cmu won all three (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @10:21AM (#13756332)
    sort of.

    the stanford leader (thrun) and their lead software developer
    (mike montelermo (sp?)) were originally from cmu.
    they only recently moved to stanford. although thrun claims it's coz of his wife, some people think it was coz of too much competition and bad blood at cmu which has lots of people working in mobile robots (wittaker, simmons, nourbaksh, choset, ...) while i think palo alto has much better weather than pittsburgh :)

    the particle filter based localizer and mapper was developed while at CMU. Frank Dellaert (now at georgia tech) first introduced that to mobile robotics after reading about the
    condensation algorithm in computer vision (i like to believe that i had a part in that last bit :) I would'nt be surprised if they also use large parts of the basic control and command software infrastructure (TCX) written by thrun and others while at cmu. if it is, no wonder they required
    7 PCs for redundancy, that is some of the worst spaghetti code i've ever had the displeasure of working with. it's easier to make it fault-tolerant by just throwing more hardware at it.

    i'm not trying to belittle stanford in any way, but i just thought people might be interested in knowing that the real story in this case is a lot more complicated. the relationship between the winning teams were a lot more incestuous :)

    thrun BTW is an amazing all-round guy with an infectious smile all the time.
    • mod parent up (Score:3, Informative)

      by awtbfb ( 586638 )
      Related quote [post-gazette.com]:

      William "Red" Whittaker, the Red Team leader, minimized whatever disappointment he felt at the finish, noting the close links between Carnegie Mellon and the Stanford leaders -- former CMU professor Sebastian Thrun and a former doctorate student of Dr. Whittaker, Michael Montemerlo.

      "You take off those blue shirts," Dr. Whittaker said, referring to the Stanford Racing Team color, "and they're Carnegie Mellon."

      I do have to disagree with a comment by the parent: "...some people think it wa

  • I thought the sensors on the cars wouldn't be able to avoid obstacles in the road. I'm quite interested in where this might lead. If they have sensors that can tackle big static objects in the road, maybe they can refine them for more advanced driving. I'm pleasantly suprised.
  • I think having the robots drive would be much safer than having to deal with drunks, rageaholics, and senile citizens who can't tell the difference between the gas and brake.
  • Gray Team? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mikeee ( 137160 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @10:30AM (#13756384)
    Anybody know anything about the Gray Team and their bot? Their 4th-place finish seems to be far the best of any of the 'low budget' teams; about all I can find is that it was sponsored by The Gray Insurance Co., that their IT department (and founders who were bored of spending money on yachts?) worked on it, as well as some Tulane students, and that it was a Ford Escape (small SUV) hybrid.

    They don't seem to have a webpage for the team...
    • Re:Gray Team? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ET097 ( 921811 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:09PM (#13757711)
      I go to Tulane and I can think of about 5 Tulane students I know who helped with the bot at one point or another including one of my good friends. Tulane was mostly helping out with programming and I know they were using Java. The story I heard is the sailboat Gray Insurance had been spending money on sunk, so they decided to enter the grand challenge for fun. Luckily the car wasn't destroyed by Hurricane Katrina (they were keeping it about an hour outside of New Orleans). Some of the Tulane students stopped working with the project after the hurricane because they are attending school this semester in other states (since Tulane is closed right now), but a few of the guys took the semester off to work on it full time. As a side note, I am impressed that anything my friend touched actually worked and did what it was supposed to since I personally know his track record of breaking things over the past three years (including MY CAR).
  • Stanley would be the perfect vehicle for agressive driver rehabilitation. Replace the agressive driver's vehicle with Stanley and they can do nothing but scream obscenities as it plots its course to their workplace at a blazing 19.1 miles per hour. Three weeks of this and the agressor becomes as docile as a lamb.
  • When I first saw this news ELSEWHERE (google news) I thought it was the Touareg that was "powered by Mac OS X"


    that one doesn't even register on the chart as having moved.

  • by prozac79 ( 651102 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:16PM (#13757277)
    Why is the fact that 5 autonomous vehicles where able to traverse 132 miles not a bigger deal? I hardly saw any media coverage on this (not even mentioned in those closing "isn't this interesting" segments on local news). IMHO, this is another great "first" for mankind on par with Lindberg crossing the Atlantic or Rutan winning the X Prize. In the future, when automnomous vehicles are more ubiquitous, we will see that the pioneers were vehicles like Stanley. These engineers solved (or at least furthered our understanding) some very difficult problems of computer vision and perception. However, whenever I mention the Grand Challenge to people, they just give me a blank look. One person asked me if the Grand Challenge was some sort of football event.

    Oh well, from what I heard no one was too excited about the Wright brothers' achievement at the very beginning either.

    • The last DARPA challenge had some coverage, most of it along the lines of "Gee look at those stupid retarded robots" with shots of them stuck a few yards from the start line.

      This one had almost none. I would like to think that it is because of Earthquake coverage, but there wasn't that much on US TV. This is very sad given the scope of the achievement.

    • I hardly saw any media coverage on this (not even mentioned in those closing "isn't this interesting" segments on local news).

      There was some coverage in Germany: Main news show in at least some channels. Probably due to Volkswagen, then wanted some advertising for their car.
  • Does anyone know how exactly they scored the Grand Challenge? I was watching the leaderboard the whole day as I was coding, and one of the CMU vehicles was the first to finish as far as I can recall...furthermore, the spread BETWEEN the top three vehicles (CMU, Stanford, CMU) seemed to vary from time to time.

    I have my doubts as to the validity of the data since there were also a couple glitches during the race where all of a sudden a bunch of vehicles' mileage and stuff were kicked back by a good amount.
  • by humankind ( 704050 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:25PM (#13757835) Journal
    When you look at the results, and you see two colleges with virtually unlimited resources and millions of dollars spent on their vehicles, huge corporate sponsors and engineers at their beck and call from Boeing to Catepillar, who finished, and then this dinky little Team Grey from a suburb of New Orleans, with a splintered development team as a result of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and they FINISHED just behind the big guys, leaving other heavily-funded vehicles in the dust.

    Relatively speaking, a small indy group, even if their time was a tad slower than CMU or Stanford, essentially put those three teams to shame when you compare the resources they had available to them.

    The real story here is who is behind the Grey team's car. It must be a far superior design than either CMU or Stanford's considering the limited resources and experience they had in addressing the challenge.
  • "Mohave"? It's spelled "Mojave"?

    See "Mojave Desert", "Mojave River", "Mojave, CA", etc.
  • So much for Volkswagen's 'Drivers wanted' slogan.
  • Has anyone been able to find out the official time (i.e. time with stops/pauses substracted) that TerraMax took to complete the course? I get the impression that TerraMax was really unlucky, getting paused by other competitors many times and then being forced to shutdown for the night.

    Also, does anyone know the top speed that was reached by any vehicle on the course?

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.