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Robotics The Military Technology

Eleven Finalists in Pentagon's Robotic Rally 64

An anonymous reader writes "A mere 11 driverless vehicles — not the 20 originally planned — will compete in this weekend's $3.5 million all-robot street rally, hosted by the Pentagon. After a series of crashes, dangerous turns, and aimless wanderings off of the course, the rest of the robo-cars in the "Urban Challenge" were deemed unsafe to compete."
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Eleven Finalists in Pentagon's Robotic Rally

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  • by idiotwithastick ( 1036612 ) on Friday November 02, 2007 @08:08AM (#21209943)
    If the cars had a 1% chance of getting into an accident, they'd be worse than most humans... and the last thing the Pentagon wants to do is sponsor a race that causes car accidents.
  • Counterintuitive (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Friday November 02, 2007 @08:15AM (#21209977)
    I guess it makes sense if you think about it, but it seems a bit weird that it's much easier to design and build a plane that flies itself than a car that drives itself.
  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Friday November 02, 2007 @09:56AM (#21210983) Homepage
    It is either that or die.

    One of my uncles was a contractor in Angola during the civil war and he nearly went to jail for dangerous driving after coming back.

    Apparently many anti-tank mines have a delayed fuse so that they blow up under the middle of the tank. If you drive at 70mph+ it blows up behind you. After 3 years of working down there he was having a panic attack every time his speed dropped under 50.

    Frankly if they can get away with reprogramming without having to undergo therapy they are very lucky.
  • by BobbyJesus ( 1183347 ) on Friday November 02, 2007 @10:04AM (#21211111)
    You're exactly right. The race organizers shouldn't have specified detailed rules that teams could count on for development because the overall goal here is to have a completely autonomous vehicle. There's no chance that DARPA is doing this to prove that the technology can actually work first, then make it more robust in order to implement it. What they're probably going to do is take the winning car and ship it over to Iraq and have it start driving around cities right after the contest is over. That's definitely their plan, I read about it on a website somewhere. Definitely. OR... you're an idiot. They used the Grand Challenge (driving autonomously without worrying about man-made hazards) as the first stepping stone. Then they use the Urban Challenge (driving autonomously with some pre-defined, but not completely real hazards) to advance the technology another step. Then maybe in another year or two they have an even bigger project. Or maybe they take the technology as it is and continue to develop it in-house until it can drive through tunnels and not run through a railroad crossing gate.
  • by ALecs ( 118703 ) on Friday November 02, 2007 @10:42AM (#21211655) Homepage
    ...actually - his car is the one that got "clotheslined" in the link from the summary.

    --- BEGIN 644 conspiracytheory.txt ---
    Anyway - I heard Wed. that they were out of the competition - more-or-less arbitrarily. It sounds to me like DARPA already knew, going in to this, who they wanted the finalists to be. Stanford (the previous winner), CMU, Oshkosh - they're all there.

    Last time DARPA basically did the same thing to Team Jefferson. They just said "you guys are done" when they showed up to re-try a test -- after they'd spent 30+ hours doing energency repairs after hitting a barrier. I'm getting the distinct impression they don't want anybody small in this thing. TJ has spent a fraction of the other teams' development costs and for some reason that scares DARPA.
  • by illectro ( 697914 ) on Friday November 02, 2007 @11:40AM (#21212613)
    That's better odds than the people they're giving licenses to in this country.
  • by mlund ( 1096699 ) on Friday November 02, 2007 @12:16PM (#21213255)

    Yeah, I hate it when those damn Ambulances, Fire Engines, and Police Cruisers just tear through the neighborhood with their sirens blaring and those damn lights flashing. Where do they get off driving ninety miles an hour, ignoring stop signs, refusing to yield the right of way, and cutting off pedestrian traffic?

    How dare they! I mean, it isn't like anyone's life is on the line, right?

Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.