DARPA finalises urban challenge contestants

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DARPA finalises urban challenge contestants

Software-driven cars could be in your city soon. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced the 36 teams selected to take part in its Urban Challenge contest.

The contest will see cars controlled solely by computers navigate through urban environments, with prizes of US$2 million for first place, US$1 million for second, and US$500,000 for third.

The contest follows on from DARPA's Grand Challenge, which saw computer controlled cars race on a 175-mile desert course. That race was won by a team from Stanford University on the second attempt after no vehicles completed the first race.

The chosen teams will compete in the Urban Challenge National Qualification Event (NQE) scheduled for October 26-31 and the top 20 teams from the NQE will move on to the Urban Challenge final event on 3 November.

The contest will take place at the George Air Force Base in Victorville, California. The cars must operate autonomously on the course and obey California traffic laws while performing manoeuvres such as merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles and avoiding moving obstacles.

“The robotic vehicles will conduct simulated military supply missions at the site. This adds many of the elements these vehicles would face in operational environments,” explained Dr Tony Tether, director of DARPA.

The contestants include teams from Stanford, MIT and Cornell.
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