The first DARPA Urban Challenge qualification videos are in, and the competition is intense. As you recall, 11 teams will compete in the Urban Challenge Final Event on Saturday, November 3 at the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, Ca.
Here's the Urban Challenge overview:
The teams will attempt to complete a complex 60-mile urban course with live traffic in less than six hours. The finalists will operate on the course roads with approximately 50 human-driven traffic vehicles. Speed is not the only factor in determining the winners, as vehicles must also meet the same standards required to pass the California DMV road test.
Take a look at Talos, the vehicle entry for MIT, negotiating Area C, which involved intersection precedence (robots should wait their turn, just like everyone else) and vehicle reaction to roadblocks.
Take a look at Team CarOLO, made up by members of five Institutes of the Braunschweig University of Technology supported and sponsored by a consortium of the German industry. Team CarOLO says:
Sending our car "Caroline", a Volkswagen Passat Model year 2006, into the "battle", we are sure that the use of best German engineering and recent efforts in autonomous vehicle projects demonstrate our abilities and will enable us to reach the top ranks in the Urban challenge. We are proud to be guests in the US, to be able to compete in friendship in the Challenge, to learn from competitors and to show our capabilities.
These great teams of engineers are well on their way to surmounting DARPA's challenge. How long will it take for the techniques developed in these vehicles to autonomous "autocabs" (following Robert Heinlein) or "robot cabs" (following Philip K. Dick) operating in cities?