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Robotic Racing – Winning the DARPA Grand Challenge November 19, 2006

Posted by Unreasonable in Matters Technological.

In 2005 the Stanford AI Lab’s vehicle completed a 130 mile race thru the Mojave without a driver (or any other human intervention). In this 45 minute video Sebastian Thrun describes the technical challenges and the developments they used to overcome them.


The Stanford team won the $2,000,000 DARPA prize, which is a departure from DARPA’s previous mostly unsuccessful efforts to fund autonomous driving research. Instead of giving out grants, this time they provided no development funding, but offered a prize to the winner of the race.

It’s kind of ironic that they used a Volkswagon Toureg.  Over the rear wheels it says “Drivers not required.”

For 2007 DARPA is sponsoring the Urban Grand Challenge, a similar race, but with traffic.

Also available online: Nova: The Great Robot Race



1. Why Google Should Go Nuclear « An Unreasonable Man - November 21, 2006

[…] We’ve also recently seen the success of the X-Prize and the DARPA Grand Challenge. In the case of the X-Prize, the winners spent something like $20 million to win a $10 million prize. That’s a serious bargain if you’re weighing direct funding vs offering a prize. […]

2. DARPA Urban Challenge - No Prize For You « An Unreasonable Man - November 22, 2006

[…] I didn’t realize it when I wrote the Grand Challenge post, but since it worked so well, DARPA is not planning to offer a prize this time. Instead they have funded 11 teams with $1 million each. Thanks guys. Way to minimize the use of our tax dollars. I thought DARPA was supposed to be the brainy part of our government. […]

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