JABbering Stooge

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fight for the glory of Carnegie...

Saturday made me proud to be a Carnegie Mellon alumnus. In case you're wondering, the second running of the DARPA Grand Challenge was run this past Saturday. The goal of the challenge is do design an autonomous vehicle to traverse an under-300 mile, off-road course in the Mojave Desert in under 10 hours.

Last year none of the entries was able to complete the 150-mile course. The vehicle that travelled the farthest was known as "Sandstorm," created by a team from Carnegie Mellon.

This year, the race was shortened to 132 miles and the prize money doubled to $2 million. Four contestants were able to finish in the time allotted: Stanford University's "Stanley" (First Place - 6 hours 53 minutes, effective speed 19.1 mph), Carnegie Mellon's "Sandstorm" (The same one that went the farthest of all entries last year, Second Place - 7 hours 5 minutes, effective speed 18.6 mph) and "H1ghlander" (Yes, that's an attempt at l33t, Third Place - 7 hours 14 minutes, effective speed 18.2 mph) and The Gray Team's "Kat-5" (Fourth Place - 7 hours 30 minutes, effective speed 17.5 mph).

Interestingly enough, CMU's coverage of the event notes that the Standford Racing Team was lead by two Carnegie Mellon luminaries - Professor Sebastian Thrun and Dr. Mike Montemerlo, who earned his doctorate at CMU. So technically, CMU or someone related to CMU took the top three positions at the event.

But more importantly than institutional accolades is the fact that the success of this challenge brings an automated highway system that much closer to reality.

We've moved! Check out the new site here!