Google began the latest online mapping craze a couple of years ago when it kicked old school stalwart Mapquest to the curb. Since then Microsoft and Yahoo have jumped into the fray and the gang from Redmond has made a lot of progress with 3-D visualizations of its maps. Google has added features to its maps, but it has largely relied on users to submit 3-D models of buildings using a program called Sketch-Up to supplement its aerial maps.
Now this is what we call an upgrade: NC State University's Insight Racing team has scored a new set of wheels for the upcoming 2007 DARPA Grand Challenge. The team's Chevrolet Suburban, dubbed "Desert Rat" for the last DARPA challenge, which sent vehicles across the Mojave in the final event, will sit this one out. Instead, Insight will field "Lone Wolf," the new Lotus Elise which was presented to them by the automaker last week. In addition to the car, Insight will be receiving support from Lot
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
Remember William "Red" Whittaker? He is the ex-marine turned college prof that competed in both the 2004 and 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge with a pair of autonomous H1 HUMMERs named H1ghlander and Sandstorm. Unfortunately for Red, neither HUMMER was able to beat Stanley, the autonomous Volkswagen Touareg from Standard, in last year's challenge that actually saw competitors finish the course for the first time.
Named in honor of Herbie the Love Bug, the famous number 53, Volkswagen's GTI '53+1' is car that requires no human nanny. It's a fully automatic car that can negotiate twists, turns and straights at the edge of its performance envelope, all without the aid of a driver's touch. The '53+1' uses radar and laser sensors as electronic eyes, much like many of the entrants in the DARPA Grand Challenge, to read the road ahead, and a satellite navigation system to pinpoint its position to within an inch.
We all know the basic facts
about the DARPA Grand Challenge that pitted over 20 autonomous vehicles against each other and the elements out in the
Mojave Desert last October. After watching the NOVA special The Great
Robot Race on PBS last night the entire enterprise has taken on a whole new dynamic thanks to the excellent
backstory provided by the program that reaches all the way back to the first DARPA Grand Challenge in 2004.