Stranded In The Southland

Monday, October 10, 2005

Grand Challenge Results -- Wow! Wow! Wow!

To my surprise, not one, not two, but five teams successfully completed the DARPA Grand Challenge, and the winning team, Stanford's, managed to average close to 20 mph! Wow!

Red Team's two robots were just a few minutes behind Stanford (who would have guessed it would all be so close!), and a totally independent, much cheaper robot sponsored by a small insurance company, Team Grey, came in something like 25 minutes behind Red Team. Wow!

Team Terramax took 12 hours to complete the course, putting them over the 10 hour limit to win the prize, but successfully demonstrating the technology. Team Terramax fielded a huge truck, just what DARPA was looking for to haul gear onto the battlefield. Wow!

Alas, poor team DAD failed at around the 38 mile mark. Something broke down, perhaps in their spinning sensor on top of the truck, and DARPA stopped them. Bummer.

I was still amazed and impressed that even one robot finished -- I'd seen interviews with the head of DARPA who suggested that he hoped a robot made it even half-way through the course. Now, this year's course was allegedly a bit easier than last year's, with the hard part at the end, rather than at the seven mile marker.

But the robots were also clearly much better this year. I was astounded to see pictures of the robots zipping up overpasses over I-15, and along K-rails and all that. What an amazing accomplishment!