Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

DARPA's Atlas Walking Over Randomness

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the wait'll-it-finds-a-gun dept.

AI 76

mikejuk writes "Considering how long we have been trying to solve the problem, a robot walking is mostly amusing. Atlas is an impressive robot, evoking the deepest fears of sci fi. Watch as one of the DARPA challenge teams makes Atlas walk, unaided, on randomness. This video of Atlas was created by the Florida Institute For Human and Machine Cognition robotics team. It shows Atlas walking across a random collection of obstacles. Notice that even though it looks as if Atlas is supported by a tether, it isn't — as proved when it falls over at the end."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

HITLER IS LOVE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504239)

let him into your heart!

Useless (-1)

Reliable Windmill (2932227) | about a year ago | (#45504271)

How utterly useless. It looks like a man in full-body casting who's trying to walk discretely after soiling himself. Given the recent findings on the Pentagon's un-checked spendings, this black hole for funding is well on form for the U.S government.

Re:Useless (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504305)

If you could find a better way to employ all those engineers universities create every year, I'd love to hear it.

Re:Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504505)

Wait, but I thought we had an engineer shortage that's why we have to import H1B visa workers!

Re:Useless (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#45504583)

We do have a shortage of engineers. There's a distinct shortage of engineers willing to work unlimited hours for laughably low wages under demoralizing petty authoritarian management, after spending years of their life and racking up $100+K in debt on the promise of decent employment. This shortfall is made up for by the H1B program.

Re:Useless (0)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#45504685)

There are many real problems to solve: how to sustainably feed humanity (that is: without fucking the environment), how to fight new antibiotic-resistant microbes, how to produce clean energy, and so on.

Re:Useless (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about a year ago | (#45505263)

One way to feed everyone and produce clean energy is to have an army of robots to do it for us.

Re:Useless (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#45505935)

You mean the army of robots will decimate humanity, retrofitting our needs to what we can produce?

The joke aside, your robots do not produce energy, they consume it.

Re:Useless (1)

LordWabbit2 (2440804) | about a year ago | (#45513771)

One way to feed everyone is to have a big ass world war, or a plague like in the bible.
Cut down the population by 75% and the problem will solve itself.

Re: Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45516493)

Are you willing to die and help solve the problem? Always remove someone else but not the people who complain.

Re:Useless (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504531)

This post brought to you by GOP Astroturfing Services, Inc. Reagan proved deficits don't matter, but only when we're in power!

No: Asimo was useless. THIS is a huge step forward (2)

Scott W (3433395) | about a year ago | (#45507361)

One day, robots will be ubiquitous: everywhere, all the time, helping in whatever ways are necessary. (Yes, I did read a lot of Isaac Asimov growing up. But it still seems inevitable.) Bipedal robots will be necessary, since our artificial world has been constructed for bipedal creatures between about 3' and 7' tall.

Japan's Asimo robot was a ridiculous dead-end: perfectly controlled to essentially run scripts over well-known terrain with virtually no uncertainty or randomness. A real bipedal walking robot will need uncertainty baked in from the very beginning, which Atlas clearly has from watching the video. It looks like a (slowed down, more clumsy) version of a person walking over uncertain terrain, if that person were blindfolded (which Atlas essential is in this demo, as it has no camera inputs). What you see as evidence of weakness is actually evidence of vast ability!

From these beginnings, you're going to see researchers add in more complex terrain coupled with video cameras input for prediction of foot-ground-interactions, and gradually increasing speed. Around the end of this decade (or perhaps the next), we will see bipedal robots able to work and move (including running) in and over highly variable natural terrain, and thus be truly useful in whatever situations they are required, thanks to the productive research direction pushed forward by Atlas. Yes, it will take some time, but this is one branch of artificial intelligence / machine learning, and as we have discovered in the field, the things that humans and living things find easy are actually incredibly *hard* to get robots / computers to do.

Re:Useless (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45512841)

How utterly useless.

It's better than any bipedal robot you've ever developed.

Re:Useless (1)

Reliable Windmill (2932227) | about a year ago | (#45513991)

Are you that guy who sneers at people when they say they didn't like a book they read, or a movie they watched, or a dish they tasted, because they're not acclaimed writers, directors or master chefs? Can people not judge and criticize things unless they've achieved better and greater themselves? You're just tripping over your own head with replies like that.

Re:Useless (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45514637)

Nope, I'm the guy who belittles when others sneer and deliver their opinions as fact.

The robot.. (0)

blahplusplus (757119) | about a year ago | (#45504283)

... trips at the end. The real problem is that how walking works in humans isn't understood. If it was we could simply apply the model via mimicry to bi-pedal human like robots.

The vibration of the robots feet is probably the most jarring aspect of the video. No human has vibrating feet.

Re:The robot.. (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#45504323)

It's understood perfectly. It's just very very hard to simulate, as there are many muscle groups involved from your toes up to your head and your shoulders, all moving in a coordinated effort. Getting it exactly right on a robot is - hard.

No Lordosis (2)

Mandrel (765308) | about a year ago | (#45504419)

One thing I haven't seen on either this or ASIMO is a back with lordosis [wikipedia.org] . This is critical for our balance while walking, and may allow these robots to get rid of the knee bend.

Re:The robot.. (0)

blahplusplus (757119) | about a year ago | (#45504597)

"It's understood perfectly. It's just very very hard to simulate"

The two things don't go together. If it was understood as perfectly as you claim you could take apart the understood model and make simple versions of it that work. i.e. if you are in possession of the fundamental principles of bi-pedalism in all environments you can then reduce complexity because you understand the fundamental concepts of walking given any set of normal human terrain.

We haven't got anywhere near that with robotics, so to say that 'we understand how humans walk' is not quite correct.

Re:The robot.. (2)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about a year ago | (#45504661)

Only if reductionism works for walking. There are some systems where simplifying the system removes the interesting behavior. You may be able to understand the complex system, but be unable to build a replica due to physical limitations.

Re:The robot.. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#45504823)

To extend on blahplusplus' comment, I've heard a wonderful quote the other day: "If you can't simplify a problem, you don't really understand it." I'd need some serious convincing to accept that bipedal robots have some sort of exemption from that rule.

Re:The robot.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504853)

We understand fusion in all its flavors in stellar objects pretty well- if not perfectly then detailed enough to pretty much to have a firm understanding- but have a lot or problems with replicating it back here at home. Sometimes even a perfect understanding of something doesn't immediately translate into being able to replicate it simply because the required techniques to do it aren't there.

The famous saying,"knowing is half the battle" might be true, but the balance about "the other half can be a lot harder" is usually left out.

Re: The robot.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45505295)

I'm sure we could get fusion to work in a star sized reactor that is nowhere near earth

Re:The robot.. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#45504941)

There are a bunch of things we think we know how we could do them, if only we had the [material, machines, power] to build them. We can describe what we need, but not how to make them.

Of course, often times it seems that once we get those things, we get to move on to the next part of the problem we didn't see before.

Re:The robot.. (3, Insightful)

The123king (2395060) | about a year ago | (#45504599)

also, pretty much every human being would make sure to not step on any of those obstacles, mainly because they don't want to trip and fall. Who seriously sees a corridor full of wood and goes "fuck it, i'll just stroll straight over all this"? You don't, you look to make sure you're stepping on solid ground. Sure, there's times when you do have to tread on uneven and unsecured surfaces, but then you take even more care on where you're going. This robot doesn't seem to have the logic to do this, and that's where they're going wrong.

Re:The robot.. (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#45505017)

Sure. Robot would have to
-look at the ground
-understand whats on the ground, flat vs obstacles
-understand solid vs movable/soft obstacles

we are barely at step 2 nowadays, even for quite predictable environments like roads.

Re:The robot.. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about a year ago | (#45506665)

While I 100% agree that this problem should be solved by better cognition and route planning rather than better reflexes and balance, maybe they were working on its ability to handle uneven ground rather than its ability to avoid it? Often when developing systems like this, you have to deliberately put the system in a situation which it can't (yet) handle, in order to improve how it handles said situation.

Re:The robot.. (1)

GodGell (897123) | about a year ago | (#45519411)

also, pretty much every human being would make sure to not step on any of those obstacles, mainly because they don't want to trip and fall. Who seriously sees a corridor full of wood and goes "fuck it, i'll just stroll straight over all this"? You don't, you look to make sure you're stepping on solid ground. Sure, there's times when you do have to tread on uneven and unsecured surfaces, but then you take even more care on where you're going. This robot doesn't seem to have the logic to do this, and that's where they're going wrong.

What? That completely misses the point of this entire excercise.
The point is to design and test a system that is capable of walking across such obstacles, just like you are, when it does become necessary. Once such a system is implemented, it will still make just as much sense to design the robot to avoid obstacles when it can, except now it can still keep going when it can't.

In other words, these guys are trying to design a better support and locomotion system for future robots, instead of making a robot that knows where not to go.

Re:The robot.. (1)

The123king (2395060) | about a year ago | (#45504607)

No human has vibrating feet.

Then again, no human is born with metal feet with no sense of touch

Sensory Feedback (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45505373)

Then again, no human is born with metal feet with no sense of touch

Yes, I always wonder if this isn't the root cause of failure to get robots to walk well. Granted, I'm sure someone's about to "OMG why would you think that experts wouldn't think of stuff like that" me on this, but I note that when I'm standing, I seem to mostly rely on my sense of pressure from my feet. I want to keep my center of mass over the center of my feet, so when the front of my feet feel more pressure than the back, I push the front of my feet down to cause me to lean further back, and of course the opposite when my heel feels more pressure than my toes. It makes it seem like the arch of my feet is a design feature, causing the forces to land on the heel or toes where sensing them is most useful, and not in the middle of my foot where I would gain no information about my balance.

However, then I look at robots like this with flat feet and no obvious sign that the robot can measure the difference in force between the front and back of the foot, and I wonder if they're not doing something as stupid as thinking that as long as they make the feet move like feet then the robot will walk, just like if you make wheels turn like wheels then the car will move forward.

I also note that almost any human motion is based upon taking our current knowledge of our present state and seemingly mentally simulating every possible input we could apply to that state to determine which inputs put us closer to where we want to be, then doing that. However, I think these robots are doing something far more trivial, and simply having some pre-planned walking pattern that they try to follow, causing the things to fall over the moment that everything doesn't go as expected.

I do wish I had thousands of dollars to waste playing with robots. I think I'd accomplish more. (that's your cue for the "OMG you're not smarter than scientists" speech)

Re:The robot.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504663)

No human has vibrating feet.

That's too bad...

Re:The robot.. (1)

db10 (740174) | about a year ago | (#45505575)

The difference is, at least I assume so, is that this is a controls theory implementation using a feedback loop... Most humans would have a problem walking blind through that course.

Re:The robot.. (3, Insightful)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about a year ago | (#45507507)

No human has vibrating feet.

I beg to differ. Try this experiment. Place a thick pillow on the ground, or perhaps two. Stand on these pillows with one leg and no other support for one minute. If your pillow stance is unstable enough, your foot will have to move around rapidly to maintain your balance, since by not being able to change the location of your foot on the pillow, you must instead change the orientation of your foot. I suspect that this robot is actually testing specifically the ability of ankle joints to maintain balance, since there is almost no side stepping visible on the part of the robot. The Boston Dynamics robots referred to in other posts often seem to rely mainly on sidestepping for balance, and often have peg legs instead of feet and ankles. This robot seems likely to be a proof of concept of one particular method of balance that in future robots will be combined with other methods of balance.

The feet need some complexity (4, Interesting)

NixieBunny (859050) | about a year ago | (#45504285)

Those flat board feet are no match for the terrain. A few metatarsals would go a long ways toward stabilizing its stance on uneven surfaces.

Re:The feet need some complexity (3, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#45504545)

Especially if placed inside bean bags for weight distribution -- Like an elephant's.

Tether (-1, Flamebait)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year ago | (#45504295)

Notice that even though it looks as if Atlas is supported by a tether, it isn't - as proved when it falls over at the end.

...and then proceeds to hang by its tether.

Re:Tether (2)

foobar bazbot (3352433) | about a year ago | (#45504801)

Notice that even though it looks as if Atlas is supported by a tether, it isn't - as proved when it falls over at the end.

...and then proceeds to hang by its tether.

... with its center of mass at a lower altitude than when it was walking, thus proving that the tether wasn't supporting* it before, yes?

*I'm aware that proves it wasn't entirely supporting it, and there'd need to be some assumptions made about how elastic the tether is to prove it wasn't supporting it at all, but given that the point of such a tether is to arrest a fall before robot meets concrete, and also to not impose any force before the fall, I think it's reasonable to suppose it actually does that.

Re:Tether (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504831)

Yes. But I like GP's post anyway.

xtianists don't believe in random (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504307)

So expect a lot of hate posts. They try to constantly disrupt this site, but they especially hate this topic. It is very anti-xtianist.

Re:xtianists don't believe in random (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504503)

True, once I became an ex-Tianist, I dropped the silly beliefs in randomness held by the Tianists. However, I'm surprised to see Tianist propaganda being posted to this site --- I though you guys all died in the group suicide of '92 (shortly after I left the cult). Did you miss the invitation to the big event? Seeing a Tianist post here just seems so... random? Oh no, what have I done? Forgive me Oh Great Tian, for I am remiss! I return to your random embrace by impaling myself upon this captcha

waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504313)

just hire some mexicans do it, whatever "it" is

Re:waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504547)

Money can't be wasted, it's an unlimited psychological resource. Its creators impose artificial limits because that's the only way they can get attention.

Inflexible feet (2)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about a year ago | (#45504339)

An impressive balancing act, but the really interesting thing is to see how Atlas stumbles on objects which shift under its weight. It vividy shows the need for flexible feet on a biped. That's going to be an interesting engineering puzzle to solve.

Re:Inflexible feet (1)

The123king (2395060) | about a year ago | (#45507685)

I think a cheap and simple way would be to glue sponges to the bottom of its feet

Big dog recent video (4, Funny)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#45504363)

The most recent Big Dog [youtube.com] video shows that this is a (largely) solved issue for quadrupeds. The middle of the video shows it walking over stumps, navigating a swingset, and so on.

Still, "four legs good, two legs better". Or so they say...

Re:Big dog recent video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45506429)

This is not Bigdog. This is two men.

The Viet Cong would have fun with these things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504367)

A carefully camouflaged pit into which the robot falls ...

A trip wire.

A snare.

And the list goes on. Taking robots like this out of commission will remain trivially
easy for years to come.

Rather than waste money designing these for war, instead draft the engineers who designed
it and send them to war. We don't have a surplus of robots but we most assuredly do have
a surplus of humans.

The money wasted on this could instead be used to rebuild some of the crumbling
infrastructure of the US, which is in very bad shape and getting worse every year.
If you think that's a waste of money, don't complain when someone you love dies
when a bridge collapses.

.

Re:The Viet Cong would have fun with these things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504573)

I think the idea is that these will prevent deaths by doing repairs and rescues that are too dangerous for humans.

Money is artificially and unnecessarily constrained by its creators. Scarcity thinking is an obsolete model.

Impressive (3, Funny)

Brucelet (1857158) | about a year ago | (#45504397)

The summary is an impressive bit of (unattributed) quoting from the article, evoking, the deepest fears of comma abuse.

"evoking the deepest fears of sci fi" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504405)

hardly...
It might freak the cat out in a similar vein to a vaccuum cleaner but wathcing the video makes me feel worried *for* (not of) Atlas

I'm sure it's an amazing technical achievement but just highlights how much further we have yet to go.

Re:"evoking the deepest fears of sci fi" (1)

yo303 (558777) | about a year ago | (#45504695)

Scariest looking military humanoid robot yet: PETMAN. It is used to test protective clothing in hazardous environments instead of using people (if the suit breaks!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFrjrgBV8K0 [youtube.com]

Re:"evoking the deepest fears of sci fi" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45506023)

I agree, this guy is shakier than my grandpa.

packibg peanut (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504425)

Did it slip on a packing peanut...I am investing in those for defence of my yard

Something missing.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504473)

Shouldn't the random obstacles include human skulls?

Difficult terrain (1)

King-Raz (51985) | about a year ago | (#45504489)

Difficult for a human to walk over those objects. A human would look down at the ground, and position their feet between the obstacles, or just walk around them. My wife would probably clear the stuff off the floor.

  I'm sure if I attemped to blindly walk across the bits of wood, rope and pebbles, I would probably trip over too.

Re:Difficult terrain (1)

fisted (2295862) | about a year ago | (#45504851)

My wife would probably clear the stuff off the floor.

Made my night!

Re:Difficult terrain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45505005)

My wife would probably clear the stuff off the floor.

Your wife will be easy pickings when the robots invade. Better start helping her learn to defend herself better now. Lesson 1: turning every room into a strategic obstacle trap.

Humans Trip In the Dark (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504535)

Not bad IMO. You try to walk a cross a darkened garage with all sorts of crap on the floor and keep your balance.

I say 'darkened' as I don't believe this robot is visually sensing its envionment. It seems to be reacting just to tactile force interactions.

When Atlas Attacks. (1)

ttucker (2884057) | about a year ago | (#45504707)

When Atlas attacks, just throw down some piles of rope and cut 2x4s.

im sold (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about a year ago | (#45504715)

hell it made it father then i would have over that crap...bravo Darpabot!

I, for one, welc...oh shit that's right.

nevermind.

Not bad, (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about a year ago | (#45504753)

but how well does it handle a pile of human skulls?

Robots that look like humans... (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about a year ago | (#45504773)

Really? Even Honda's robot walks better than that...

But they are all missing the point. The flat feet need to go. If you want to build a robot that walks like a human, give it human feet, give it an arch, give it toes, those are all important to how we walk and balance.

Give it a body structure like ours, and it has a chance to walk like us. Why fight mother nature?

Re:Robots that look like humans... (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about a year ago | (#45506679)

Asimo doesn't even try to walk over an assortment of random crap like that.

Re:Robots that look like humans... (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about a year ago | (#45507543)

Yes, Asimo walks around it, which is why it is better. :)

Why do robots have to be bipedal? (1)

Kargan (250092) | about a year ago | (#45504779)

I mean, it's obvious that they're REALLY BAD at it. Hardly any animals are bipeds, in comparison to the amount of quadrupeds, especially.

Why not play to robots' areas of strength and just stick with wheels/treads/rotors/wings/etc., and worry about more advanced forms of locomotion later? I understand that humans want robots that look and act like humans, I suppose, but how about coming up with more practical designs?

Re:Why do robots have to be bipedal? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about a year ago | (#45506683)

We can already do those things. They're solved. Hence, now we are at the "later" stage where we work on advanced forms of locomotion.

There are several advantages to a humanoid robot in terms of the robot being able to function in a human-centric world (drive vehicles, use tools, navigate buildings etc.)

Re:Why do robots have to be bipedal? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#45515411)

Why not play to robots' areas of strength and just stick with wheels/treads/rotors/wings/etc., and worry about more advanced forms of locomotion later? I understand that humans want robots that look and act like humans, I suppose, but how about coming up with more practical designs?

Because the world is built around bipedalism (because humans built cities, buildings, etc). If you want to navigate a modern city, two feet generally will get you everywhere, while the other forms will get you limited access at best. Stairs is a particularly nasty problem - some tracked robots can navigate through them, but assistance is often needed and the front needs to be able to traverse the first step. Plus you have all sorts of CG issues since an appropriately steep staircase can result in a very tippy robot.

That's the main reason for bipedal robots - the others have been done and we know their limitations, and generally speaking, an able human is able to traverse over all the terrain that each individual locomotion mechanism can fail at.

Atlas? (1)

seven of five (578993) | about a year ago | (#45504859)

*Shrug*

dubstep legs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45504861)

dddddddddddddddrop the robot

no adjustment (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#45504865)

Notice that every pace was exactly the same. There was no adjustment to place the foot in a better position. Just walk a pre-set pace and hope it can balance on the random spot the foot comes down. People do not walk that way and we fall down a lot less. I would also like to see that robot try to stand if it fell on it' back.

Here's the pro version (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#45504981)

That's the amateur version from the Florida Institute For Human and Machine Cognition. Here's the pro version [youtube.com] from Boston Dynamics, showing some walking over rocks. The balance control is better, the walking is faster, and the arms and torso are being used more effectively for balance.

The "DARPA Humanoid Challenge" teams are struggling along. They had to write their software to run in a poor simulator, then use it on the real robot, with a competition next month in December. So the control software is crude. Most of the team efforts seem to be going into the perception side. Performance in the simulated humanoid challenge was poor; the best team fell down about 12 times. This looks like they're still using the basic balance controller from Boston Dynamics for control. Entrants in the competition get a closed-source .so file that will operate the Atlas robot for a few basic functions (slow walk, stand, etc.) for debugging purposes. This isn't the good stuff; Boston Dynamics keeps the better algorithms a secret. Entrants are supposed to replace those algorithms with better ones, but since they've only had about two months with the real robot, that probably hasn't happened.

In a year, this will probably suck a lot less.

Re:Here's the pro version (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45505119)

You're fairly well informed, but not quite right. This is IHMC's own walking algorithm, not the Boston Dynamics stuff, as can be seen more clearly from e.g.
this video [youtube.com] [youtube.com]

You're right about the two months and about sucking less in a year though ;-)

Re:Here's the pro version (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45505645)

The first attempt at DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous car race (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA_Grand_Challenge) made it less than 12km before getting stuck - in 2004. Now only nine years later people are talking about the imminent arrival of driverless vehicles.

Re:Here's the pro version (0)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#45505705)

People may be talking about it but I won't be happening any time soon. People have also been talking for decades about a viable flying commuter vehicle. That has not happened yet either.There has yet to be a truly autonomous car. Even the Google car needs a vehicle to pre-map the course in high resolution so it can differentiate between stationary and movable objects and a human backup to take over when it can not deal with the situation.

2004/2005 DRC (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#45508211)

The first attempt at DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous car race (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA_Grand_Challenge) made it less than 12km before getting stuck - in 2004. Now only nine years later people are talking about the imminent arrival of driverless vehicles.

I've made that point before. I was at the 2004 DRC (and in the 2005 one). The 2004 DRC was pathetic. It was covered by the Comedy Channel. The Ohio State entry (a huge Oskosh truck) ran into a parked vehicle at slow speed and pushed it for a while until DARPA people finally sent it an emergency stop signal. The CMU approach was to have a semitrailer full of people at workstations doing detailed manual path planning. The CD with the route was released an hour or so before the start, so their people had a short period to plan the exact path, using recent high-res aerial photos. DARPA's competition chief, an active-duty USMC colonel, found out they were pre-planning, and so, the night before, a few of his troops went out and moved some obstacles. This was the result. CMU's vehicle plowed right through a highly visible sheet metal fence. [overbot.com] They were the most successful team. The others did much worse.

Then in 2005, there were 23 teams with working vehicles running around the California Motor Speedway, none running into anything. The second day of the 2005 Grand Challenge was the day the press suddenly recognized that automatic driving was real.

Answer to the obvious question (1)

abirdman (557790) | about a year ago | (#45506527)

To get to the other side?
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?