After the debacle of DARPA's Grand Challenge 2004
(a competition held by the agency to advance autonomous ground vehicle development) where every
entrant failed to complete the course (and in some cases even get
on the course), the DARPA top brass have decided to take no chances and are staging a 'National Qualification Event', or semi-final, this year with a pool of 40 teams battling it out to reach the final, and possibly a $2m prize, should they complete the challenge.
According to the DARPA press release
, the 40 teams have been drawn from Individual entrants, Universities, Corporations and a High School. These teams have been selected from a field of 118 over the last month after visits from DARPA staff deemed them suitable for the next phase.
The NQE will take place at the California Speedway in Fontana, over September 27 to October 5, 2005. During these dates the teams will be whittled down to 20 who will qualify for the actual Grand Challenge Event on October 8th.
So - what are the chances of someone walking (or should I say autonomously driving) away with the $2m prize purse this year? Probably better than last, what with these extra checks and balances, but the course will be a over demanding dessert terrain, and they have to complete it within 10 hours. I'm going to say no, they probably won't have to pay up this year, but I'm sure the competitors will do much better this year than last. But that's not difficult, really...
Discuss our new robotic vehicle overlords here