November 21, 2005
Pull over Kitt – you’ve just been lapped.
The idea behind the Grand Challenge is to accomplish something that seems impossible, along the lines of crossing the Atlantic, the X-prize, etc. Darpa had previously funded cars that drive themselves, but after numerous failures decided to turn the task into a contest and see how far teams would get in a competitive setting. Last year none of the entrants managed to finish the course, but this year 5 finished, 4 within the alloted time.
The difference between last year and this year was primarily improvements in software, not hardware. In fact, once the software has been developed, outfitting a car with the necessary equipment to drive itself (the perceptual apparatus – laser, radar, and video guidance, the gps, the inertial motion systems, the general purpose computing servers, and the fly-by-wire control systems), were estimated by Sebastian to cost the robots are already here (some of them killer)!