Saturday, November 03, 2007

DARPA Urban Challenge Over; Winners to be Announced

The main event of the DARPA Urban Challenge is over, and the winners will be announced tomorrow. Michael Belfiore has related all of the events of the qualification rounds and the main event in a series of Wired posts. As you might imagine, there were a lot of amusing, interesting, sometimes surprising events during the challenge, as the robot cars are not quite ready for real urban driving situations, but are making a lot of progress. The fact that the progress differs from team to team makes for some interesting situation.

The Wired posts chronicle the events as team after team was eliminated from the challege. Six teams were able to finish the race, but from the posts it sounds like the teams from CMU, Stanford, and Virginia Tech are the front-runners. The Ben Franklin Racing Team, Cornell, and MIT also finished.

I have to say that given the difficulty of the challenge, it's amazing that any of the teams finished. I wonder when we'll be seeing parts of this technology - perhaps not full-fledged robot cars at first, but starting with more advanced vehicle safety measures, or robot cars in partly controlled environments - appear on the road?

Update (November 4, 2007): The winners have been announced ... I don't see them at Wired or TG Daily yet, so check here.