DARPA Officially Cuts Off Grand Challengers

from the not-so-grand dept

We’ve been following the well-hyped DARPA “Grand Challenge” offroad autonomous vehicle challenge for a while now, and last week reported at how surprised DARPA was that over 100 applications were filed to participate. It seems that DARPA expected no more than 20 or so – and even told state and local officials that it would be no more than 20 in order to get their approval. So, now that they’re backed into a corner, they say they’re not going to let everyone race, which is pissing off many of the smaller, bootstrapped teams, who are afraid they’re the most likely to get cut. The university/corporate backed teams, however, think it’ll be good that they won’t have to fend off the scrappy upstarts. Either way, this seems like an opportunity for someone. Clearly, there are a lot of folks willing to try to build such autonomous vehicles. Why not start a private offering to run similar races? Why not put them on TV? Make it like “Junkyard Wars” or whatever, and put a little cash behind the prizes. Assuming there are already 86 contestants who won’t qualify for the DARPA challenge, you could set up 1-on-1 races and have a weekly show for more than two years just going through those teams. Even if you had five cars per race, you could easily put on a season’s worth without even bringing back cars for more races. If it was even remotely successful, there would be no shortage of entrants. So, forget relying on the government to run this race, put the damn thing on TV and support it with private money.

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