Monday, October 10, 2005

Grand Challenge Wrap-Up

Well, the Grand Challenge is over, and the robots are all headed home. Stanford has been heavily decorated and Team TerraMax might have proved that sometimes all you really need is a bigger hammer.

As Primm Nevada slowly goes back to being just a hiccup on the way from L.A. to Las Vegas, I thought we'd compile a couple of the more interesting Grand Challenge sights that provided race-day information and summaries.

I also think there is a neat human-interest story worth mentioning: Gray Team, who finished the race with an official time of seven and a half hours is from the southern Louisiana area. 75% of their team is still homeless as a result of Katrina. When dusk was approaching they said they were prepared to let their bot run beer-bottle pass (the most dangerous portion of the race) in the dark since their sytem didn't make use of visible light, and were completely confident in their creation's ability to win. That is pretty amazing.

And for those of you who might think that this was a waste of taxpayer dollars, here's a figure to consider. When asked by a reporter how much DARPA would have spent to get this kind of performance out of contracting projects to private research firms, a DARPA official estimated 150 to 200 million. Even if DARPA spent another 23 million on the course, equipment, employees, and press-recruiting for this competition, (which is likely, when you consider all the following trucks, the helicopter, the man-made barriers, and the E-stop devices used), I think a savings of 125 million is a reasonable amount.

I think it's too bad that the Grand Challenge is over, I'd love to see another government agency assume the mantle of host and change the objectives. Wouldn't it be nice to see an autonomous road-race from the Department of Transportation? Perhaps something cross-country with penalty points for every time your human second has to wrest control from the vehicle for safety?

In any case, here's a couple of links that might interest you. If you missed the webcast but are interested in hearing how the race played out, the first link provides a really engaging event-based log that is a great read and much more informative than DARPA's coverage.

The Live TG Daily Grand Challenge Weblog []

The Darpa Grand Challenge Forum []

The Popular Science Grand Challenge coverage []

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home