December 4 2007: 12:31 PM EST
Email | Print    Type Size  -  +

High stakes robot-racing

Thrills and spills mark the Department of Defense's first suburban robot race.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt, senior editor

darpa_finals_tartan.03.jpg
CMU's driverless Chevy Tahoe took first place.

(Fortune Magazine) -- Hard core robot experts tend to turn up their noses at remote-control bots like Robotex's - even if they're fully armed.

Their idea of real robots is more like the camera-studded vehicles that raced in November's so-called DARPA Grand Challenge, a kind of Indy 500 for driverless cars. This is heavy-duty research sponsored by the Pentagon, which wants a fleet of autonomous battlefield vehicles by 2015.

The first two Grand Challenges took place in the Mojave desert, where nobody could get hurt. This one was set in an abandoned Air Force base to simulate suburban driving conditions - complete with parking hazards and traffic jams.

The winner of the $2 million first prize, having successfully navigated the 60-mile course - including left turns across traffic - was a souped-up Chevy Tahoe out of Carnegie Mellon University.

Other entries were not so lucky. One triggered a fender-bender. Another nearly collided with a pillar. A third ran into a house. Fortunately, none of them was carrying a gun.

Back to: Killer robots could replace soldiers To top of page

Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.15 0.02 0.12%
Facebook Inc 58.94 -0.78 -1.31%
General Electric Co 26.56 0.44 1.68%
Cisco Systems Inc 23.19 0.16 0.69%
Micron Technology In... 23.91 1.43 6.36%
Data as of 4:01pm ET
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
Nasdaq 4,095.52 9.29 0.23%
S&P 500 1,864.85 2.54 0.14%
Treasuries 2.72 0.08 3.19%
Data as of 5:58pm ET
Sponsors
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.