• Oct 5th 2006 at 3:24PM
  • 4
Every week, in garages around the world, amateur racers spend their hard-earned day-job dollars repairing and improving all sorts of racecars, with one goal in mind - winning a tacky plastic trophy on the weekend. Now the U.S. government has honored that hallowed tradition, announcing that the robot drivers in the upcoming 2007 DARPA Grand Challenge will forgo the $2 million cash prize previously promised to the winner, in exchange for - a trophy! (Probably a mil-spec trophy that they'll pay too much for, but still.)

Actually, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency isn't trying to save money (taxpayers should be so lucky). Congress recently changed the rules for the Department of Defense, and it no longer has the authority to award cash prizes.

Robot fans needn't be too concerned about a lack of entries for next year's event - the eleven "Track A" teams selected this month for the 2007 Urban Challenge will each receive from DARPA up to $1 million in technology development funding, in addition to the support of their corporate sponsors. The A-teams include last year's winner Stanford University and perennial contenders Carnegie-Mellon University, as well as big-time defense contractors Raytheon and Honeywell.

"Track B" teams, which receive no funding from DARPA, can still earn their way into the final competition for the DARPA mugs by successfully completing qualifying events. The Urban Challenge final event requires competitors to safely complete a 60-mile simulated urban area course (in traffic) in under six hours.

[via engadget]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      It's a shame that there's no more cash prize, but at least they are still funding the teams. I'd hate to see the government's one merrit based development "contract" go by the wayside. Does anyone know who owns the rights to the technologies the teams develop for their robots? Do they retain them, or can DARPA copy their ideas?
      • 9 Years Ago
      There are some great DARPA videos (including some interviews with the team for Stanely) at http://www.cartv.com/content/research/channels/index.cfm/channel/cartv_video/action/showvideo/vid/e_0159/vscat/DARPA/vcat/Event/

      The videos go into some details on the hardware and software used to self-navigate. Pretty amazing stuff that will help build better cars down the road.

      • 9 Years Ago
      So whos the fool whos gonna be the "traffic driver"? I would hate for one of these robotic creations to loose the sensor for a stop sign and crash into me.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Mil-spec often requires 100% testing. That's why they cost more. But who is interested in facts? Not this automotive tabaloid.
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