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Robotics Science

DARPA Grand Challenge Updates 156

Posted by Zonk
from the good-luck-folks dept.
Red Team writes "Today is the day. The official race route for the DARPA Grand Challenge was released to the first five teams at 4:00AM PST this morning. Our race planners are pouring over the race route getting ready for the launch. H1ghlander will start first at sunrise, around 6:15AM PST, followed by Stanford and then Sandstorm. For real-time updates on the race, you can track the Red Team race-day blog or catch the webcast on the official Grand Challenge page." Update: 10/08 20:57 GMT by Z : USSJoin writes "Stanford Racing, home of Stanley, has just finished the 131.2 mile DARPA Grand Challenge course. Considering that the CalTech Vehicle (Alice) jumped off the track toward onlookers only 8.3 miles in, this demolition derby-meets-AI demo has certainly been exciting."
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DARPA Grand Challenge Updates

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  • by technoextreme (885694) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @02:00PM (#13747086)
    http://www.popsci.com/popsci/darpachallenge/1b7a1e 7eef0d6010vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html [popsci.com] Apparently, the teams all ready have traveled four times as far than last year. It is great progress for a year.
    • Is this because they've been perfecting technology (no doubt they have) or because DARPA has chosen an easier route?
      • Is this because they've been perfecting technology (no doubt they have) or because DARPA has chosen an easier route?
        Im not entirely sure. DARPA did make sure that they the most easiest solution (GPS) would fail and that the robots would have to rely on some other method of navagation.
      • I read that the course is actually harder this year, but I'm not sure where I saw it.
      • From [cnn.com]

        It's one of two entries by Carnegie Mellon. The other, a modified red Humvee dubbed Sandstorm, took third position in the trials. It was the best performer in last year's race despite covering only 7 1/2 miles of the 150-mile course. The exact route of Saturday's race will be kept secret until two hours before start time, but organizers have said it will begin and end in Primm and is expected to be more difficult than last year while covering as many as 175 miles.

        So, it's a bit shorter (by 18 m

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Every team has managed to make it past the point traveled last year - except for one. The MITRE Meterorites, who in one hours and seven minutes traveled a total of 0 miles. I'll bet you they can at least double that next year. :) I have to wonder how they managed to qualify for this round if they weren't even able to leave the starting line.

      (MITRE is probably best known as "that contractor who decided that Windows NT should run that battleship that was stranded when Windows NT BSODed on its test run".)
      • by Jay Carlson (28733) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @04:33PM (#13747684)
        (MITRE is probably best known as "that contractor who decided that Windows NT should run that battleship that was stranded when Windows NT BSODed on its test run".)

        Cite? MITRE [wikipedia.org] didn't exist when the final US battleship [wikipedia.org] was built, nor did MIT Lincoln Labs [wikipedia.org]. I suppose the MIT Radiation Laboratory [wikipedia.org] was contemporaneous in 1944, but I expect their expertise in OS recommendations was limited. I suppose this lack of knowledge of operating systems is excusable as there weren't any operating systems.

        Oh, you mean the USS Yorktown [wikipedia.org]? That's a guided missile cruiser, and back in the old days the hull would have been called a destroyer, before the Navy decided to change the nomenclature. Little bit of a difference between a destroyer hull and a battleship, but hey, AC abuse is par for the course.

        As much I relish the image of some poor ensign yelling, "Screen's blue, SIR!", nobody seems to think this was an OS-level crash. [ncl.ac.uk] And most of the google hits I can find on "navy smart ship mitre" point to things like Think Outside The COTS [mainframemigration.org]. Scrolling down to Figure 1, there's a list of potential pitfalls of commercial-off-the-shelf software.

        If this seems familiar, you've been a slashdot reader for a few years: MITRE Corp. Report On Open Source In Government [slashdot.org].
        • Most people call all warships "battleships". I see/hear it all the time. That might be irritating to the Naval professional or the nit-picking Naval History buff. But it's the way people talk. Jargon is always used imprecisely by outsiders.

          The important thing here is that the Yorktown was stranded by a software crash. That crash might not have been due to a flaw in NT, but that wasn't the poster's main point. Which was that the contractor responsible for that software system, MITRE, dropped the ball. As

      • MITRE is probably best known as "that contractor who decided that Windows NT should run that battleship that was stranded when Windows NT BSODed on its test run".)

        Nonsense. There was no BSOD. What happened was that the system was using a client/server architecture. An application program on the server was given invalid data from an operator on a client, and divided by zero. That caused the application to exit, just like it would have on any other operating system, such as Linux.

        While I personally wo

  • H1lander, Stanley, and Sandstorm are all moving at about the same speed. It is like their plans are all the same. Maybe they are all moving at the course limits. Anybody know?
  • No webcast (Score:2, Informative)

    by mpn14tech (716482)
    Unfortunately there is not a publicly accessible webcast of the race like last year. I was quite disappointed at that.
    Still it is amazing how well the race is going this year. I hope there will be more races with greater challenges.
    • by pallmall1 (882819)
      Even without a webcast, it's better than this year's OU vs Texas game.
    • Yeah, the website sucks this year. The only cool part is the map; the entire rest of the site is a mess. The stats are completely inaccurate and misleading, the URLs in the RSS feed are broken, the updates are extremely sporadic, there's hardly any video, the UI sucks, the back button doesn't work, the text's too small, there's a stupid disclaimer on external links, external links always open popups, I could go on and on. Down with Flash websites!
  • by Maddog Batty (112434) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @02:07PM (#13747114) Homepage
    Can someone combine Google Maps with the XML here: http://www.grandchallenge.org/data/location.xml [grandchallenge.org]
  • Wartime Bandaids (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jarrettwold2002 (601633) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @02:10PM (#13747124)
    This is just amazing. In the press UAV's have been getting the vast majority of the press about automating the battlefield. However, Red Team (1 & Too) along with Stanford are really showing that the feasibility of sending autonomous bot's into a harsh environment is feasible.

    In the first Iraq war, long supply lines made the support infrastructure a direct target. However, with an automated force it's a slowly dawning reality for the first time, to remove a vast majority of the human element of danger out of resupply missions, and rescue missions.

    Need an emergency evac, or resupply hop on to "BattleNet" (heh heh BnetD) and order up a insanely up armored rescue vehicle, or order up a munitions, rations convoy.

    In ten years time, this technology is going to lay a good amount of major military doctrine about logistics to waste and redesign.
    • I have not seen robots managing with ease and RELIABILITY even mildly unstructured portions of the world. I wouldn't trust a 3 ton vehicle to the Mars Pathfinder's 'brains', for example.
      Also, there are cost issues. Manned supply lines could be safer if you invested money (armour, more soldiers, aerial support, etc.), and maybe it is less than the cost of having an autonomous fleet of vehicles that will not be 'fool' proof.
    • In ten years time, this technology is going to lay a good amount of major military doctrine about logistics to waste and redesign.

      Well maybe but I can forsee smart enemy engineers disabling and reprogramming unmanned vehicles for their own purposes.

    • That won't work.

      If you automate the supply convoys, none of your supplies will ever be delivered because every one of those convoys will be destroyed. Why? because the enemy has no incentive to NOT attack them. They can blow up driver-less robot trucks all day long and they know that nobody in the convoy is gonna do a damn thing about it.

      Right now, there is an interesting phenomenon going on where you are statistically worse off in a uparmored HMMWV in Iraq then you are in one of the old thin skinned ones o
      • Pair this with the Sniper finder robot and the automated attack tower we have seen in the last couple days though and I wouldn't want to mess w/ something that returns fire automatically and w/o deviating from it's primary mission.
      • As the other poster who replied to you mentioned, there's always that sniper-finding robot to counter the scenario you describe.

        There's also a Phalanx [wikipedia.org] gun, which can target and destroy an incoming projectile (like an RPG or missile) before it makes impact. I'm sure it could be modified to fit on a humvee in an automated supply convoy.
        • There's also a Phalanx gun, which can target and destroy an incoming projectile (like an RPG or missile) before it makes impact. I'm sure it could be modified to fit on a humvee in an automated supply convoy.

          Phalanx guns are BIG, like several times the weight of a humvee even before you load the ammunition.

          Besides, I wouldn't be too worried about guided missiles being aimed at a convoy. You should be more worried about antivehicular explosive charges (mines) and RPG's in convoy defense. Automated convoys
      • The obvious solution would be to escort the unmanned supply vehicles with manned defense vehicles. Sure, the convoy wouldn't be "completely automated" anymore, but you'd still be getting the same supplies through, while risking 90% fewer soldiers' lives, so it would still be a big win.
  • by Druox (911165) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @02:16PM (#13747138)
    Sure, they're all just happy cars driving a fun race...until they rule us all!!
    I, for one, welcome our four-wheel and rear-wheeled drive overlords, and pledge my allegiance to Emperor Camry.
  • Looks like the war between GMC and Ford could someday take on a whole new dimension. :o
  • Last year they provided live feeds of the event. I can't seem to find any for this year, anyone if one exists?
  • by not5150 (732114) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @02:42PM (#13747229)
    http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/08/darpagrandchalle nge2005/ [tgdaily.com]
    With pictures :)

    Most interesting one so far is when Caltech's Alice charged through a k-rail, knocking it over and then started up a berm towards reporters. It was E-Stopped just a few feet away from hitting the media.
    • Good thing they stopped it before it tasted human blood. If it had we would have never stopped its killing rampage.
    • Most interesting one so far is when Caltech's Alice charged through a k-rail, knocking it over and then started up a berm towards reporters. It was E-Stopped just a few feet away from hitting the media.

      If I was a car and I went crazy, I think I would munch the media also.

      Some speculation is that a dust cloud confused it. Next year maybe they want to include a dust detector such that if lots of dust is detected, to procede with caution. I am surprised they don't use feeler-like wires that stick out a few f
  • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @02:44PM (#13747236)
    During last years challenge all contestants were complaining that the thing was rigged in order to get the red team to win. I.e. there were last minute rule changes for which the red team was prepared for, but nobody else was, and some contestants said they had an operational system ready yet they were not allowed to compete.

    I am not at all surprised of this, since the red team is sponsored by the major military contractors and we all know how they basicaly control military procurement.

    But I was wondering if similar shenanigans were happening this time around. Any of the competitors care to comment?

    • by Animats (122034) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @03:15PM (#13747363) Homepage
      As a team leader of one of the teams eliminated at the NQE [overbot.com], I didn't see any visible favoritism by the DARPA staff. The teams that went to Primm are the teams that should have gone.

      Funding is more of an issue. Teams were supposed to have no Government funding whatsoever, either direct or indirect. Yet MITRE had a team, and they're a quasi-governmental agency. [nara.gov] CMU has received DARPA robotics contracts for years, as has Stanford. Red Whittaker of the CMU team is still the principal investigator on a NASA grant (#NAG5-12890) until February 2006. Stanford used software developed under DoD contract, although anyone can download it and they asked DARPA for permission. It's more of a revolving-door issue than direct diversion of Government funds.

      But the real incentive for the big university teams was fear. If Joe's Auto Parts fielded a better robot than some university getting $20 million a year in robotics funding from DARPA, DARPA might well pull the plug on the school. CMU faced that prospect; originally, they weren't going to enter the Grand Challenge at all. The whole Grand Challenge was created because of unhappiness at DARPA with the rate of progress in mobile robotics. DARPA has been pouring robotics money into CMU and Stanford for thirty years, without getting much back. The head of DARPA, Dr. Tony Tether, decided that it was time to do something about that. It worked.

      • The whole Grand Challenge was created because of unhappiness at DARPA with the rate of progress in mobile robotics. DARPA has been pouring robotics money into CMU and Stanford for thirty years, without getting much back. The head of DARPA, Dr. Tony Tether, decided that it was time to do something about that. It worked.

        Seriously? That is like the coolest thing I've heard, a government agency using economics and incentives to get some results. Nice!

        • Mod parent up, couldn't have said it better. Contests like this are the antithesis of no-bid contracts, plus it's fun to watch the winners celebrating.
          • Government contracts are very rarely sole sourced (i.e. without competition) unless their is only 1 company that can meet the specifications such as clearances, ownership, technology, etc.. There are books full of regultations (called FAR and DFAR) that must be applied to level the playing field. Your oblique reference is to Halliburton's work in Iraq. Halliburton was the only US company that could do the work required on the scale required (other companies could but were not US firms...that eliminated the
            • Actually a lot of the no-bid contract talks these days is in reference to all the cronyism going on down south in the wake of Katrina and Rita. Billions and billions of dollars in contracts were awarded without bid or even research. Many of those contracts are being reevaluated and put out for bid, but only after much fuss was raised in the media and Congress.
            • Lets say the government decides to build a $300,000,000 attack blimp. They open up competition to all of the local businesses which will of course bring sorely needed jobs to the local economy. Everybody votes for it, nobody asks if it's necessary. So I guess you're right, my beef is with necessity but it's good to know there are rules in place to prevent cronyism.
    • If there is anyway for Cheney to profit from the red team, I will belive you.

    • You think the red team has major military sponsors? Look at Team Terramax. Their vehicle is from Oshkosh, the largest supplier of military trucks, and is widely in use by the military. The team's navigational system came from Rockwell Collins, another colossal military contractor. I'd say that Terramax's military ties is stronger than any other team.
      • Well, you could technically get that vehicle as gov surplus (even though they started destroying vehicles now). Its just an altered (although new) M923/939 [fas.org]

        Honestly, I would have used an M113 APC [fas.org]. It has plenty of room inside for racks of equipment, enclosed space for air conditioning and air filtration, its a tracked vehicle, plenty of room on top and in front for sensors and, like all military vehicles, has (roughly) a 10 hour operating capacity (which is where the 10 hour rule came from).

        As for the softwa
  • Google Earth (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Here's the starting point in Primm,NV

      3537'8.83"N
    11522'39.26"W

    There's a small poor resolution band going across one section. The rest isn't bad though
  • Lovely image! (Score:2, Informative)

    by HerrGoober (743280)
    "Our race planners are pouring over the race route"
  • by vectorian798 (792613) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @03:03PM (#13747311)
    Here:
    DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 [grandchallenge.org]

    There is a map updated almost every minute automatically that will show you the position of all the teams and the times elapsed for each, etc. At the time of this post, Red Team Too, Stanford, and Read Team are all doing well, at 94+ miles each. Surprisingly, most of the teams are still in the running (that is, not eliminated). It is hard to compare one team to another however, because each team starts at a different time and perhaps the ones that are far behind are in the hardest part of the course and are thus moving slowly.
  • by Saeger (456549) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .jllerraf.> on Saturday October 08, 2005 @03:12PM (#13747350) Homepage
    Last year the best car made it only 7 miles. This year all cars but one have made it at least 22 miles (so far), with three frontrunners past the 100mile mark (so far) and expected to finish.

    Now that's some amazing progress.

    This is great news for the soldiers soon to be removed the line of fire; "ominous" news for the millions of truckers and taxi drivers (in the US alone) who'll be quickly replaced over the next decade. [blogspot.com]

    • ... "ominous" news for the millions of truckers and taxi drivers (in the US alone) who'll be quickly replaced over the next decade.

      "Quickly replaced over the next decade"? You're nuts.

      I expect it to be at least thirty years before automated vehicles are driving on ordinary public roads. In ultra-remote areas (think resource exploration in harsh environments), controlled areas (think forklifts within a freight terminal), and war zones: yes. Public roads (imagine a delivery truck threading through D

      • Driving on normal roads is vastly easier than navigating the grand challenge terrain. In fact there have already been cross-country drives of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

        We already have traction control, adaptive cruise control, automated parking and drive-by-wire on the consumer market. The only thing that is not automated is steering and braking. Pre-emptive braking and obstacle-avoidance technology is very close and will probably begin to emerge on the market within a few years (motivated by s
        • Driving on normal roads is vastly easier than navigating the grand challenge terrain.

          I disagree. In the grand challenge all you have to worry about is the terrain, and really the terrain is nothing more than empty dirt road for the most part. Plus the max speed is 40 mph, GPS is completely unobstructed save for a couple of straight tunnels, and the GPS waypoints are extremely detailed and completely accurate. To create a truly driverless car of the type where you push a button and it drives you where y

          • Most of those problems are "last mile" issues which vary greatly depending on the endpoints. For many applications (trucking, commuting) the route is known in advance. Driving off road in the desert has a slew of hard problems as well (vibration, dust, random obstacles etc), which we now know are basically solved. The army has mandated that 1/3rd of their fleet will be autonomous within 10 years. Undoubtedly that will entail a couple orders of magnitude more effort but they have the money and the will t
            • Certainly the desert has its problems, but they pale in comparison to the problems of city driving.

              For predefined routes we already have trains and buses. There would probably be a market for an autonomous path-following cargo truck but if it couldn't navigate the last mile over city streets that market would be a *lot* smaller than it could be. Commuting pretty much requires city driving.

              Of course, eventually these problems will be solved and robots will drive us everywhere; I'm sure of that. It's j

  • Wikipedia Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by KrackHouse (628313) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @04:11PM (#13747594) Homepage
    I'm updating the Wikipedia page. Updates with links to videos plus google maps - add stuff if you've got it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_DARPA_Grand_Chal lenge [wikipedia.org]
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @04:18PM (#13747626) Homepage
    Ten miles to go, three entries (Stanford and both CMU vehicles) are close together, with Stanford well in the lead. Now approaching the section with the one-lane dirt road with the 1000 foot drop on one side. Is there a live video feed of this area anywhere?
  • by Harry Balls (799916) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @04:35PM (#13747689)
    ...with their entry "Stanley", a modified VW Tuareg.

    Total time: 7 hours, 8 minutes for a distance of 132 miles, which amounts to an average of 18.5 mph.

    • Err, no. They just finished with a time of 7h 28m. Maybe you mistoke the 125 mile line on the status board on http://www.grandchallenge.org/ [grandchallenge.org] for the finish?
      • Red Team Too is the closest to the finish line, but they're over Stanley's time. Red Team (One) is at Stanley's time now, and they're up in Beer Bottle Pass, 7 miles from the finish. I don't know about adding penalty time, but it looks like Stanley has won.
        • It's not so much an issue of adding penalty time, but subtracting pause time.

          Both Stanford and Sandstorm have been paused several times to prevent them from running into the back of H1ghlander. It seems the roads are too narrow in most places to allow passing to occur, hence they stop the rear robot to allow a safe following distance to accumulate. The time the robot is in pause state does not seem to be taken into account in the unofficial results on the grandchallenge.org site.
          • Just out of curiosity, but why should they have to pause them at all? I'd want a real autonomous vehicle to be able to dodge moving targets directly in front of it, especially ones going in the same direction and slower than it is. Or was that simply beyond the scope of the challenge?
            • Well there are some rather thorny logistical issues; e.g., if two bots collided then it would be unfair to the one which was not "at fault"; also there is a chase vehicle for every bot, so the chase vehicles would have to pass as well putting the passengers at risk as well. Maybe in the next grand challenge...
            • That might have been difficult in the narrow tunnels, depending on how narrow those tunnels actually are.
    • I view this as a 1-2-3 sweep for Carnegie Mellon fans. The Stanford team is led by Sebastian Thrun - who until recently was a professor at Carnegie Mellon.
  • The Stanford team has won the DARPA Grand Challenge. Time was 7 hours, 26 minutes.

    The two CMU vehicles have made it through the last tough parts, and they should finish in ten to fifteen minutes.

    Four other teams are still running, but are too slow. None are halfway yet.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @05:23PM (#13747890) Homepage
    Stanford is about half an hour ahead on time, so they win. (The numbers on the DARPA tracking site are wrong; the clocks are still running for the teams that have finished.) Insight Racing, TerraMax, and the Grey team are still running, but they're not even half way and can't finish within ten hours.

    So it's over.

    Autonomous vehicles will never be a joke again.

    • There was this guy who had been to about every bar in town. So one night, he hopped into a taxi cab and told the robot to take him to the best bar in town.

      The robot took him to a bar, where he got half-drunk. He hopped into the same cab and said that the bar wasn't good enough. The robot took him to another bar, where the guy had the time of his life.

      The next morning, this guy was in yet another bar telling his buddy what a good time he had the night before, but he couldn't remember where he was. All he cou
  • The Grand Challenge Status Board (as of 2125Z) shows Red Team, Red Team Too, then Stanford.

    Is it time for a chorus of "Fight for the Glory of Carnegie!" ?

  • Note On DARPA Times (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08, 2005 @05:46PM (#13747991)
    Just thought I would mention a bit about the "Live update" times on the DARPA Grand Challenge Site since everyone keeps referencing them and they haven't been worth a damn all day:

    1 - The timers were started ~20 minutes before the bots took off for at least Red Team Too, Stanford & Red Team and never reset.
    2 - The bots were sent out at 5 minute intervals in this order H1ghlander; Stanley; Sandstorm, but Sandstorms time as only been 2 minutes off Stanley's all day, hmmmm.
    3 - As someone mentioned the official clock for each bot is stopped if it is ever paused by the chase truck but it is clear that since the clock for each of the current finishers is not stopped YET, that the "live update" times are not linked to this official timer.

    So, unless someone is posting from Primm or DARPA has posted official finish time since I started this post we all should just sit tight till those times are out.

    Although, since Stanley started second and finished first he is most likely the winner (no, I'm not from Stanford; actually from CMU).

    Kudos to all those that competed and Congrats to those that finished!!
  • The ticket-tape on the grandchallenge.org site is now displaying "October 9th operations possible; no winner declared".

    Tony is probably mulling over doing some sort of tie-breaker round for the top 3 teams. Not a bad idea, there's probably something new to learn by going at it one more day.

    • Under the rules, slow vehicles might be stopped overnight and restarted in the morning. That's what "October 9th operations possible" probably means. TerraMax is still chugging away, at 77 miles. Grey Team, at 120 miles, is coming up on the tough mountain pass with the steep dropoff. Neither will make it under 10 hours, but it's worth letting them finish.

      There's someone in a pickup following each 'bot, carrying an emergency stop transmitter. Some of those roads you don't want to drive at night.

      The

  • The Grey Team has just finished. TerraMax is still on the course, with about 50 miles to go. They'll be paused overnight.

    This is impressive. Four successful finishers in under 10 hours.

  • I suppose since Stanford won the race, their robot should be called the Stanley Screamer.

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