Universities Pack List of DARA Robot Race Semifinalists

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency named 36 semi-finalists in its renowned robot race, the DARPA Urban Challenge. The race pits self-driving vehicles designed by some of the country's top computer science students against each other along a grueling physical course.

DARPA officials chose semifinalists from a list of  50 teams from across the country. University teams that made the cut included Stanford and Carnegie Mellon--2005's first and second finishers respectively--as well as Cornell University, the University of Louisiana, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The semi-finalists will compete next in the Urban Challenge National Qualification Event (NQE) scheduled for October 26 through 31, 2007. The top 20 teams from the NQE will move on to the Urban Challenge final Nov. 3, and compete for purses worth $2 million for first, $1 million for second, and $500,000 for third place.

Both the Urban Challenge NQE and final event will take place at the urban military training facility on the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif. DARPA chose the location because its network of urban roads best simulate the type of terrain American forces operate in when deployed overseas.

"The robotic vehicles will conduct simulated military supply missions at the site. This adds many of the elements these vehicles would face in operational environments," said DARP director Tony Tether.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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