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The dust has hardly settled on the second DARPA Grand Challege and the Pentagon’s Defense Advance Research Project Agency has already announced a new challenge that pits competitors and their autonomous vehicles against an urban environment. The new Urban Challenge will occur on November 3, 2007, but not before many rounds of qualifying. The course will be 60-miles long and entrants must safely complete it in less than six hours while obeying traffic laws, avoiding obstacles, merging with traffic, negotiating intersections and even backing in and out of parking spaces. None of these elements were present in the prior to challenges that took place in the desert.

The top prize will again be $2 million, but there will also be a second prize of $500k and a third of $250k. What’s even more interesting is that DARPA (a.k.a. the government) will be offering research funds to certain contenders in exchange for limited licensing rights of any resulting technology.

We suspect this is the Pentagon’s subtle way of gaining access to the technology that created the Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT) and David Hasselhoff’s impenetrable coif of helmet hair, both of which could prove useful in an urban battle environment.

Read more details of the Urban Challenge at MSNBC’s article here.

[Source: MSNBC via Engadget]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 8 Comments
      • 9 Years Ago
      What robot car could possibly beat K.I.T.T.? Not C.A.R.R., or Goliath! =D

      • 9 Years Ago
      These are really expensive projects. My Univerisity was involved & just ran out of money last year.

      Is November 2007 giving them enough time to develop the vehicle? Especially considering that they'll need to pre-qualify which means a year from now they need to be done. This new contest increases the complexity 10 fold.
      • 9 Years Ago
      K.I.T.T. will win this time, I just have a feeling. =)
      • 9 Years Ago
      Robot cars are an old hat in Germany. Mercedes started this, back in the 1980s, with software written at Bundeswehr University Munich under robot car pioneer Ernst Dickmanns. The site below mentions a fast Mercedes robot that 10 years ago already drove "1678 km on public Autobahns from Munich to Denmark and back, at up to 180 km/h, automatically passing other cars":
      http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen/robotcars.html
      • 9 Years Ago
      I would like to see a team use a late 80's camaro or trans am or whatever KITT was as thier project car. The Hummers or Toureg were nice for the deasert but you know they will use a car for this urban challenge. Using an F body car would just be classy
      • 9 Years Ago
      I saw the PBS special on the last Challenge about a month ago. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention to where all the research funds paid up to now, came from. I just assumed that limited licensing rights were already part of the Challenge "package". What I found to be especially interesting was the self-driving motorcycle. Too bad it didn't get to compete in the last challenge.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I'm sure CarTV.com will be there again to cover it. They have some awsome coverage from the last one - here are some links:

      Part 1 of the Final:
      http://www.cartv.com/content/research/channels/index.cfm/action/showvideo/vid/e_0158/vscat/DARPA/vcat/Event

      Part 2 of the Final:
      http://www.cartv.com/content/research/channels/index.cfm/action/showvideo/vid/e_0159/vscat/DARPA/vcat/Event

      both of those have links to all their other coverage of it. It's pretty awsome for those who haven't seen this. I can't wait till the next one!

      James
      • 9 Years Ago
      Nice vids, that's awesome. Pretty soon we'll be able to have a cup of coffee while our cars drive us to work. A little scary, but very cool.

      Also take a look at the motorcycle robot video...unbelievable.

      http://www.cartv.com/content/research/channels/index.cfm/channel/cartv_video/action/showvideo/vid/e_0150/vscat/DARPA/vcat/Event/pagenum/1