The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected 11 teams that each will receive up to $1 million – if they pass all requirements to compete in the agency’s 2007 Urban Challenge.
Another 78 teams have filed applications to compete in the test for autonomously driven vehicles.
Unlike past DARPA robot-vehicle events, there will be no cash prize for the winner.
“The first two (DARPA) Grand Challenges showed that tackling a formidable challenge is a reward in itself,” says DARPA Director Tony Tether.
Competitors in the Urban Challenge will run fully robotic trucks through simulated military-supply missions on a mock 60-mile (97-km) urban course, one that includes traffic, in less than six hours on Nov. 3, 2007. DARPA has yet to announce the location, which will be somewhere in the Western U.S.
The robotic trucks must operate completely without human intervention. Vehicles in the event must obey traffic laws, drive through moving traffic and negotiate traffic circles and busy intersections. The vehicles also must avoid any obstacles.
DARPA hopes the competition will lead to the building of a robotic truck that could eventually save the lives of U.S. military forces on future battlefields.
The agency has divided entries in the competition into two tracks: The 11 Track A teams have met requirements that make them eligible for cash grants that could total as much as $1 million each.
DARPA also has accepted applications from 78 other teams that will be placed in Track B. They will receive no financial assistance from DARPA. Only 20 of the Track B teams eventually will be selected to compete with the 11 Track A teams.
Cornell, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon universities, as well as California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are among teams in Track A.
Many other top engineering schools, some collaborating with auto makers, defense contractors and suppliers, have entered the competition.
There also are teams from Australia, Austria, China, France, Germany, New Zealand and Mexico that will compete for the multi-disciplinary-engineering prestige associated with winning DARPA’s Grand Challenge.