The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Pentagon Contest Highlights Vehicle Safety Technology

November 08, 2007

VICTORVILLE, Calif. --- In an obstacle course race that provided a glimpse at future vehicle safety technology, a Carnegie Mellon University team of engineers won $2 million after their robot-driven Chevy Tahoe delivered the best performance. The event's sponsor was the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Eleven teams entered self-driving vehicles that traveled through a six-hour, 60-mile obstacle course dubbed "Urban Challenge" in Southern California's high desert region. The contest's goal is to encourage development of unmanned vehicles for use in warfare. Vehicles entered into the contest had to navigate through an urban-style obstacle course at a former Air Force base. The winning vehicle, Tartan Racing's "Boss" from Carnegie Mellon University, used cameras, lasers and an onboard computer to successfully merge with moving cars, navigate traffic circles and avoid obstacles at an average speed of 14 mph, the Los Angeles Times reported. Some of the vehicle's moves were piloted by stunt drivers. "They did everything right: followed all the speed laws, stopped at the intersections," Norman Whitaker, program manager for Urban Challenge, told the Times. A team from Stanford University came in second and won $1 million. Its robotic vehicle completed the course at a 13 mph average. A team from Virginia Tech placed third. Vehicles had to complete the safety course within six hours while following all traffic laws.
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