Grand Challenge Seems A Lot More Grand This Year

from the making-it-all-the-way dept

After last year's results, it looked like it might be quite some time before DARPA found a winner for their Grand Challenge to see if an autonomous vehicle could safely make it across a desert full of obstacles. However, just a year and a half after the "best" one of these vehicles could do was a little over 7 miles, 5 vehicles successfully completed the 132-mile course (four of them within the 10-hour limit). That's a pretty impressive improvement rate. And, of course, we're happy to note our own connection to the winning team: the Stanford team used a customized VW Toureg which they worked on with assistance from the Electronics Research Lab at Volkswagen. The VW ERL is one of the happy customers of our Techdirt Corporate Intelligence offering, where we provide them information about important technologies -- some of which we hope was useful on this particular project.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Mark, Oct 10th, 2005 @ 10:00am

    worst to best?

    "However, just a year and a half after the 'best' one of these vehicles could do was a little over 7 miles, 5 vehicles successfully completed the 132-mile course (four of them within the 10-hour limit). That's a pretty impressive improvement rate."

    There's an interview on the Grand Challenge website (grandchallenge.org) this morning that might explain some of the rapid progress. Apparently in last year's course, the most difficult portion was seven miles in. This year, the most difficult portion was 125 miles in. So, if a few competitors last year had been just a bit better and been able to negotiate that difficult initial pass, they might have gone on to finish the course. Of course, this year's competitors were certainly better, having had another year to debug their software and practice, but the degree of improvement might have been exaggerated by the layout of the two courses.

     

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  2.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 10th, 2005 @ 10:44am

    Re: worst to best?

    Aha. That's a really good point. Interesting to see how they designed the course, then.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 10:46am

    VW Electrical Systems

    Bah! My 96 VW Passat had the least reliable electrical system I've ever seen in an automobile. I'm surprised the Taureg finished the course without a connector failing or a fuse block burning up. Even the dynamic duo, British Leyland and Lucas, couldn't produce an automobile which I would feel forced to sell because of the electrical system. But in that VW did succeed.

     

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