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210 comments

PO, WHY U TINKLE? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520405)

die, po, die

Why? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520412)

Because we like it!

Kill a dog today in the Euthenasia for Canus Familirous Association today!

My University Too (4, Informative)

rmohr02 (208447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520424)

One of the other competitors [osu.edu] is from my university. Looking at the relative sizes, I hope the hummer in the article doesn't get in TerraMax's way.

Re:My University Too (4, Funny)

MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520442)

Immediately springing to mind is the scene from 'Ocean's Eleven' when the Monster truck is racing the R/C mini-monster truck, and it runs it over.

This is the Department of Defense, after all, so maybe they will allow 'extra programming' to be done to find competitors (foes?) and destroy them?

Turn this whole thing into a huge BattleBots contest instead of a Cannonball Run contest .. I'd pay to see that...

Re:My University Too (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520737)

Cake is quotable:
Bowel shaking earthquakes
Of doubt and remorse
Assail him, impale him
With monster truck force...

Ack! (1)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520757)

Nice photo of the vehicle. But if you know Umit, tell him to get his photo retaken! It's difficult enough to do a good shot in a striped shirt, but those are wrinkles!

Seriously, I'm a photographer- tell him to get a new press head shot.

Pretty slick design tho. I somehow think this is going turn out to be a contest of overdesigned rather than 'clever'....

Cost to PRIZE ratio. (4, Insightful)

normal_guy (676813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520430)

I can't be the only one who questions motives when the $1M prize is being sought after by a team with more than $2M already invested. What is the eventual payoff?

Re:Cost to PRIZE ratio. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520460)

the educational experience of making such a machine? :p

the real prize != money (4, Insightful)

sczimme (603413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520469)


The real prizes:

the knowledge gained throughout the project

getting one's name published for taking an active role in the project (which can lead to further opportunities)

the overall experience, i.e. 'Hey, I did that"

The pursuit of intellectual challenge is not about money...

Re:the real prize != money (5, Insightful)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520796)

Not too mention the possibility of future contracts that can net your school some major cash.

Don't forget bragging rights for alumni (3, Insightful)

chia_monkey (593501) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521024)

Yup, those are some pretty cool prizes. But we gotta remember other prizes, like bragging rights. I'm already sending this article all over to my fellow CMU almuni friends, to other non-geek friends, etc. All this, and I have nothing to do with robotics and graduated almost ten years ago. Woohoo! I love bragging rights...

Re:Cost to PRIZE ratio. (2, Interesting)

drspock (87299) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520494)

The real payoff, as the Red Team and everybody else knows, is a future DoD contract, for many millions, or billions, of dollars.

Re:Cost to PRIZE ratio. (3, Insightful)

fuctape (618618) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520499)

Fame and name recognition. In the year 2050, you'll hear, "On the Chinese front, a Sandstorm batallion was attacked. There were, of course, no casualties, thanks to the autonomous technology pioneered in 2004."


You've got admit that it'd be amazing to be credited with an 'historical' level invention.

Re:Cost to PRIZE ratio. (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520684)

This is exactly the goal. I was at C-MU in the late 70's when Lynn Conway came and spoke on behalf of the Pentagon about the autonomous vehicle program. Basically, Berserker tanks capable of making independent judgements about what to kill. Very scary stuff, and the AI technology has not advanced much since.

Re:Cost to PRIZE ratio. (5, Insightful)

Ethon (759020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520533)

As stated in one of the replys to your post, the DoD will probably be offering a long term contract to manufacture similar vehicles for actual combat/whatever use. The DoD has already done this with the new-gen X planes, as seen on PBS' NOVA. [pbs.org] The DoD's JSF competition will probably end up paying the winner (Lockheed) some $1T in total contractual monies.

Re:Cost to PRIZE ratio. (4, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521302)

I've read a few articles about the Grand Challenge and they all seem to focus on CMU, the favorite. From what I understood, pretty much all of that $2M-$3.5M cost figure came in the form of free stuff from Intel, Boeing, and many others. It's not like the grad students are writing $150,000 personal checks to buy parts.

The students probably can't pocket any prize cash anyway because of ethics rules. If they win, the students will get a rocking party and even more top notch equipment in their labs.

It's not a race to prove you're better than the other teams and get prize money. It's a race to advance the state of a specific technology. Do you think people are going to get rich winning the X-prize?

-B

Cool (1)

Jotaigna (749859) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520436)

Cars like this will fork into commercial/environmentally friendly vehicles and on the other side MadMax like racing cars!.
I Still cannot understand why Bush hasnt pushed SUV fuel consumption to better levels, you guys probably have the technology to make cars run on water.

Re:Cool (0, Offtopic)

kill-9-0 (720338) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520462)

Did you also ask why Bill Clinton didn't push SUV fuel consumption to better levels?

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520500)

Yeah I did, but in case you haven't noticed, Clinton isn't president anymore.

Re:Cool (1)

kill-9-0 (720338) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520547)

I was just curious, thanks for answering. In fact, yes, I am quite aware that Bill Clinton is not longer president. I wasn't trying to be an ass or anything, it's just that lots of people only ask questions like that of conservatives/republicans, and give a free ride to liberals/democrats. If what you say is true, and since I don't know you I will assume it is, then you are not one of those people. Thanks and take care.

Re:Cool (0, Offtopic)

dave420 (699308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520562)

The US is so behind on gas mileage it's hilarious. You can get standard, ordinary road cars all over Europe that do insane mpg (70), yet the H2 hummer manages only 1mpg. I guess in the states it's form over function :-P and an ugly form at that ;)

Re:Cool (2, Insightful)

tuffy (10202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520634)

I guess in the states it's form over function :-P and an ugly form at that ;)

They're not all that functional either - unless a mountain should suddenly spring up on the way to the kids' soccer practice. Obviously a few people have a need for those sorts of vehicles, but I question the volume of them I see on the road.

Re:Cool (2, Interesting)

dave420 (699308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520770)

That's another thing - they only look the part - if a mountain popped up you'd have more chance getting over it by foot than a humvee. They use Tacoma or Silverado chassis and engines, with a much larger body shell (resulting in the insanely low mpg and silly look). Range Rovers are the complete opposite, however. Efficient and excellent offroaders. Why won't people learn? :-P

Re:Cool (1)

mynameis (mother ... (745416) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521166)

Look, with all that active sensing, it will be way too visible to sneak weed across the border :)

Slightly closer to topic :) First, cargo capacity would eventually be an issue. Secondly, the current administration is against fuel consumption by the military because ???

Re:Cool (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520643)

The hummer gets 9mpg. You can buy cars in the US that get 70mpg (diesel golf, Prius), but not many people want them. It's not that we are less advanced, it's that we are greedy and evil.

Re:Cool (1)

Morologous (201459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521273)

Hey! I own a diesel Golf. That doesn't mean I'm not greedy and evil! You can't exclude me!

*hunts around for a dog to kick*

Re:Cool (3, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520566)

The whole point behind an SUV is that, under current regulations, it's classified as a light truck, and so doesn't have some of the environmental restrictions that come with sedans, etc.

Re:Cool (4, Informative)

Morologous (201459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521238)

It's all about CAFE. Dodge's PT Cruiser is listed as a light truck too -- it's got a flat-load floor between the rear wheels. Dodge puts a four cylinder in the PT, which gets 30 MPG. This allows them to make even more fuel-hungry trucks and SUVs because their combined average is offset by the relatively high efficiency PT.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520594)

Everyone knows that the technology to make cars run on water has been around since the 1970s - at least that's the urban legend.

Re:Cool (1)

Marxist Commentary (461279) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520877)

Bush and Cheyney are beholden to BIG OIL, BIG ENERGY, and BIG BUSINESS. That's why. Who makes money by saving energy resources? Not Cheyney, not Bush, not their capitalist cronies. So nothing gets done.

This is the definition of compassionate conservatism.

Mars Rovers (1, Interesting)

BenBenBen (249969) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520443)

Just out of curiosity, how well would the rovers' "route picking" routines cope with this challenge?

I read that the operator says "go from here to here" and the onboard 'AI' chooses the best route in a 3d visualisation - is this software open-source, and could it be used in this challenge? I can't see any major differences, other than the relative lack of parked cars on Mars (2 pathfinders and a beagle, iirc)

Should DARPA have emailed NASA before starting this? ;)

Re:Mars Rovers (2, Interesting)

genneth (649285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520599)

Pretty well, except for the speed thing, and the distance covered. From what they say, an average speed of 25 miles per hour will be needed to even complete the course in time. The rovers can presumably plod along and if it gets stuck it stops and asks for human intervention. The rules of the competition designate that no communication is allowed. From a piece that I read somewhere like New Scientist, it seems that with 4 Itaniums and 4 Xeons they're still not computing obstacle avoidance fast enough. For the qualification the team ran the vehicle at a walking paced 5 miles an hour. There's gonna be a lot more work needed until they can manage to finish in time.

Re:Mars Rovers (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521245)

200 mile course, at 10 hours = 20 MPH minimum speed to finish. Obstacles, of course, will slow down the vehicles, so the vehicle must be able to go much faster than this on 'clear' road to be competitive. The issue there is safetly - can an autonomous vehicle going 50 MPH stop in time when it detects another vehicle or an obstacle out to the maximum range of its sensors (I think a couple hundred meters)?

Re:Mars Rovers (2, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520662)

Actually it DARPA specifically required that no government agency help allowed. (though universities are quasi government, but you now..) Anyways I heard that the university that developed software that went on the mars rover also has a different team that worked on this project, but wasn't allowed to use the software. Though it probably wouldn't have worked as the rover goes real slow and spends a lot of time analysising the environment to get the safest path. This project will require real time calculations that picks the best route given the time, but not nessesarly the perfect route.

Did anyone else read the title as... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520448)

CUM First To Qualify For DARPA Grand Challenge

Re:Did anyone else read the title as... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520597)

Yeah, the DARPA grand challenge is one huge game of Soggy Biscuit. I knew it. I knew it all along.

i'd be more impressed if (4, Interesting)

theguywhosaid (751709) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520489)

they divided your time by the cost of your machine.

its impressive when you build a mega$ robot, but a minimal robot that manages to finish is way cooler

Re:i'd be more impressed if (1)

genneth (649285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520617)

The problem is to finish at all at the moment. It may seem wierd, but the billions that NASA poured into developing those rovers cannot come close to matching the neccessary ability to, say, drive around a termite mound.

Re:i'd be more impressed if (0, Flamebait)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521242)

i think it's pretty evident that the army doesn't give a crap about costs... why should they, when it's so easy to get billions and billions from american taxpayers?

Where the pictures at? (2, Interesting)

Ethon (759020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520493)

TAIWWP :( Does anyone know of anywhere hosting pictures of these unmanned robot vehicles?

Re:Where the pictures at? (2, Informative)

Emperor Skull (680972) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520819)

The University of Louisiana team is updating their journal regularly.
www.cajunbot.com
www.cajunbotjournal.com
Emperor Skull

Niggers... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520511)

...crave my cock.

Interesting, but ... (5, Insightful)

gravityZ (210748) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520523)

... doesn't this basically lead directly to the US military dropping off Robo-Tanks in foreign countries as they please? We know that a steady diet of wars figure heavily in the plan [newamericancentury.org] for the forseeable future. The Robo-Tank cuts down on friendly casualties, thus making conflicts more palatable to the public.

Now I find this as cool as anyone else, from a technological standpoint. And it definitely has civilian applicability. But let's face it, this contest isn't about finding cheaper ways to haul cargo or reach remote locations.

Re:Interesting, but ... (1)

GTRacer (234395) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520658)

But let's face it, this contest isn't about finding cheaper ways to haul cargo or reach remote locations.

Sure it is! Those Robo-Tanks have to be transported and positioned on the enemy line, courtesy of the Robo-AssaultLander. And they can't refuel and rearm themselves now, can they? Robo-SupplyLine to the rescue!

GTRacer
- Still cooler than an Osprey

Re:Interesting, but ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520803)

The next step of course is battle droids.

Re:Interesting, but ... (5, Interesting)

Belisarivs (526071) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520843)

But let's face it, this contest isn't about finding cheaper ways to haul cargo or reach remote locations.

Sure it is. Logistics are a *huge* problem for the military, especially one that moves as fast as America's. Remember in Gulf War II that some of the most public incidents of American losses involved supply convoys, not front-line forces.

With this sort of technology, supply-lines become more like conveyor belts than masses of convoys. They elminate the need to teams of humans to transport fuel, water, ammunition, etc. to the front lines. This increases the pool of human resources available to the military for other jobs, while eliminating the worry of casualities inflicted by enemy interdiction missions.

Sure, automatic tanks will logically be a followup, but I think the military's mid-term goal is automating the logistics.

Re:Interesting, but ... (5, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520962)

Based on recent experience I would take the military's word for once, though only once. If you look at Iraq most of the casualties weren't in combat. Soldiers in fast moving, heavily armored, M1 tanks really weren't that vulnerable.

Its probably going to be a real long time before you trust a robotic tank to discriminate friend or foe and to decide when and when not to start lobbing shells. Combat really should have a person in the loop who can react quickly to a complex and changing situation, one that often requires nuance. I wager an RPV tank is the only thing you may see anytime soon.

But if you look at Iraq the place where the Army is VERY vulnerable is convoying supplies from one place to another since they are sitting ducks for improvised explosive devices and ambushes. I could see robotic transports as priceless for this if they can cope with a predefined route, not run anything over and deal with obstructions.

Supply lines have always been the achilles heel of occupying armies. Indications are the U.S. military doesn't really need much help in the conflict phase, but it does need a lot of help to minimize the casualties and manpower needed to occupy its colonial empire.

Re:Interesting, but ... (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520991)

I should add robotic vehicles would also be very useful for scout vehicles that are designed to make first contact with a concealed army, find mine fields and generally do a lot of dangerous scouting work which doesn't require discharging weapons. Scout vehicles would just beam back intelligence, draw fire, and be cheap enough to be expendible.

Re:Interesting, but ... (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521084)

Um considering that the main vehicle costs 3,000,000. Is only marginally capable of avoiding other vehicles and relies on sattelite and GPS data (both of which are almost uniformly in the hands of the U.S. and affiliates) I think the civilian applications have been totally minimized on this one.

It would have pleased me better to see a vehicle analysing terrain into a 3D map and doing path finding based on that data. (Pathfinding can be found in many software applications)

You are welcome to think I'm paranoid but I hardly think either of us would be really surprised if the military applications are realized.

Also considering that America has a hard time telling friend from foe(from civilian) using humans the whole thing seems a little bit premature. If their are no American casualties people will start looking at the 35-40% civilian casualties incured in recent wars.

More rejected stories... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520527)

The EFF along with five library associations, Public Knowledge, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Consumers Union is suing [eff.org] the FCC over the broadcast flag. Stating that the FCC's digital broadcast television mandate is a step in the wrong direction because it would make digital television cost more and do less, undermining innovation, fair use, and competition. The lawsuit is charging that the FCC exceeded its jurisdiction, acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and failed to point to substantial evidence in adopting a broadcast flag mandate. The FCC has asked the court to put the lawsuit on hold, pending the FCC's decision on petitions to reconsider the broadcast flag mandate, although all of the petitions address unrelated matters. The coalition of organizations opposed in court the FCC's attempt to postpone the lawsuit.

Ack! (5, Funny)

ferralis (736358) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520528)

I would sure hate to be a geologist, prospector, or hermit in the desert that day.

Gelogist: [mumbling to himself] Finally! Proof that the formation of this arroyo was caused by--

[Geologist is flattened by an army of driverless cars driving at upwards of 60 mph, one of which detects the collision too late and actually backs up, running over him again, as failing avoidance mechanisms kick in]

Re:Ack! (5, Funny)

Chalybeous (728116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520556)

I have a funny feeling some film studies geek is going to follow the action with a DV camera, and edit the raw footage into a movie using the soundtrack from "Cannonball Run"...

I, for one, welcome our autonomous vehicle overlords - even if they do sound like Burt Reynolds.

Reynolds or Carradine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520678)

I'm surprised ay the number of Cannonball Run references and the low number of Death Race 2000 references

Re:Reynolds or Carradine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520817)

Probably due to the comical and utter failures some (the single?) contestants are bound to face.

How is this impressive? (3, Interesting)

dave420 (699308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520545)

I know it's much more complicated than this, but they're giving it the knowledge to navigate a route, not the intelligence to come up with its own route. Surely that's missing the whole point of this competition? I read in the last /. article that they're using a loophole in the rules to get so far.

Seeing as DARPA wants to turn this technology into a military robotic transport, I don't know how valuable it's going to be if it has to be pre-programmed with terabytes of data just to move. What about if they invade somewhere they don't have good maps of? Somewhere with a dynamic landscape (desert, rocks etc)?

I'm all for innovation, but exploiting poorly-worded rules just to win for winning's sake is an empty victory at best.

Re:How is this impressive? (2, Insightful)

BirdTracker (737478) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520681)

They are going to be traveling through a dynamic landscape, they aren't just driving over sand dunes or across open desert. They are given waypoints, but the waypoints are each a mile or two apart which leaves plenty of room for pathfinding in the middle.

If the military invades with these, they aren't just going to tell it to go somewhere and kill someone, they are going to give the machines very specific directions. If they dont have a map...they could probably get one in a few hours anyway, so I don't think that will be a big issue.

Re:How is this impressive? (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520840)

DARPA are looking to create vehicles that drive themselves. Vehicles that drive next to manned vehicles, and act the same. These vehicles have to react like people - if a bomb drops in the road ahead, it has to know to stop and drive round. It has to figure out the best route available. If it's dumbly programmed with waypoints, one crater and it's toast.

This robot sounds like it fulfils the rules, not the competition. There's a huge difference.

Re:How is this impressive? (1)

jkabbe (631234) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521055)

If the military invades with these, they aren't just going to tell it to go somewhere and kill someone

Does anyone else have the urge to start chanting

MEGA-WEAPON
MEGA-WEAPON
MEGA-WEAPON

Or is it just me???

Re:How is this impressive? (4, Insightful)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520689)

From what I understand, the "loophole" allows them to use 1m satellite imagery of the route and, in two hours, plan something for the robot to follow. The robot still has to see its way when it's going, to avoid ditches and rocks and other things--it needs to do "local" route planning at 35mph. Even if the route were totally pre-programmed, the problem of following that route would still be pretty hard over hundreds of miles. You can't just do "dead reckoning."

What about if they invade somewhere they don't have good maps of? Somewhere with a dynamic landscape (desert, rocks etc)?

This is in the desert, and they're doing it with only satellite imagery.

There's a huge amount of mechanical and software engineering in this thing. I think that someone must have exaggerated this "loophole" to you, because it is far from making the project easy (as far as I know, it doesn't help them in the quals at all). The robot is impressive!

GPS? (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520791)

Even if the route were totally pre-programmed, the problem of following that route would still be pretty hard over hundreds of miles. You can't just do "dead reckoning."
Dead reckoning? Last I heard, GPS was accurate to a few metres.

Re:GPS? (1)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520925)

It is, but GPS doesn't tell you the location of rocks and ravines.

Re:GPS? (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521059)

Red Team has a map with the position of ravines. If a rock is big enough that their Hummer can't just go over it then the rock might show up on their map as well. This is one serious map.

There is also some onboard stuff to deal with these sorts of things, but the advantage of the Red Team over everyone else is the map.

Re:How is this impressive? (2, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520818)

So they have hundreds of terabytes of information in the back just for shits and giggles? Why isn't anyone else taking that path?

It doesn't have to think about navigating - they're telling it how to do that. It has to only deal with getting round obstacles in its path. They're removing 1/2 of the problem so they can put their effort behind the other half, which the other teams aren't doing. It just smacks of unfairness, that's all.

Re:How is this impressive? (1)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520994)

So they have hundreds of terabytes

Where did you hear that they have hundreds of terabytes?

It just smacks of unfairness, that's all.

Well, the complaining smacks of sour grapes, to me. Perhaps I am biased because I go to CMU and have friends that work on it, but I know that they have put a lot of work into this, and that insinuating that they are cheating and have it easy is really unfair to that intellectual and physical effort.

Red Team is the least impressive in some respects (4, Interesting)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520709)

Red Team is using "the best map in the world" to guide it. They have used topo maps, aerial photography, and a bunch of undergrads to painstakingly map out the terrain of the possible courses.

All competitors are given the actual route as a series of GPS waypoints a few hours prior to the race. Red Team is going to send those waypoints back to CMU, have the big iron there figure out the best course based on all the map data, and then download that course to the robot prior to the start. In a way this is cool, but it seems like they are using a loophole. A much more interesting problem would be to navigate a course that you know nothing about other than the waypoints.

The other teams are using techniques that require more onboard intelligence and route finding. The most interesting vehicle is from Cal. They have a motorcycle. Even though I went to Stanford I am rooting for the Cal motorcycle to do well since they have the most unique vehicle. Hopefully the team of Stanford alums (already dropped out) can come back next year and beat them.

Re:How is this impressive? (2, Insightful)

miracle69 (34841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520814)

I'm not sure that it is a loophole. It's not as challenging as doing it the other way, but let's face it, this is being done for the military, and you're extremely naive to think that the military doesn't have precise topography maps of the entire world, or that they can't obtain such maps in short order. Remember, a key component to cruise missile technology is topography. Remember in GWI, the cruise missiles took hours and hours to program before launch. Now, they can be reprogrammed in minutes.

So, the current method used by the Red Team may likely be how the military would implement it in the first generations of this type of equipment. Plan the best route manually and then tell the automaton what track it should generally take and let it navigate the minor obsticals.

Disclaimer: I'm not involved in DARPA in any manner.

Re:How is this impressive? (1)

LinuxHam (52232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521171)

you're extremely naive to think that the military doesn't have precise topography maps of the entire world

My thoughts exactly. I'm also figuring that OP and others probably haven't seen the training that our fighter pilots go through when preparing for missions. Radar is used to build precise 3D models of the target area. The pilots are able to fly their exact missions in simulators dozens of times before actually heading out for the real thing. I've seen many pilots saying that they can't believe how lifelike the simulator is and that everything was exactly where they expected it to be.

Those 3D models are extremely detailed.

Re:How is this impressive? (1)

triumphDriver (600794) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520901)

The US already has pretty good maps of at least the 80% earths surface. Shuttle mission STS-99 mapping mission did exactly this in Feb. 11-22, 2000. NASA mapped 80% of the earths surface at better than 1 meter resolution.

http://spatialnews.geocomm.com/features/srtm_jan20 02/

Re:How is this impressive? (2, Informative)

fizban (58094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521036)

This is no different from you getting in your car, looking at a map to find out the best route to get from point A to point B and memorizing what turns you have to take at certain key points. But the map doesn't show every little bend in the road, every little obstacle, elevation changes, etc. You have to do all that while you're driving the roads. The autonomous vehicle has to do the same things. You don't think that's impressive?

The point of the competition is not to come up with a route. It's to simulate a battlefiled scenario where the commander gives his troops the location of the enemy two hours to plan how their going to get there and kill the enemy.

The vehicle will still have to do some midcourse corrections to stay on track, but the overall course will already be programmed into it.

Hungarian Scat Porn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520568)

Anyone got some?

QID (4, Funny)

j0hnfr0g (652153) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520606)

The Qualification Inspection and Demonstration was rumored to be the state's Driver's License Test.

The vehicles had been fretting about the dreaded parallel parking portion of the test.

Bah! (2, Funny)

JustinXB (756624) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520641)

Nice to know 3 million dollars buys you a roll over and placement. What the hell did they do to the HUMVEE that made it roll over? I know HUMVEEs and HUMMERS, they don't roll easily.

Re:Bah! (3, Informative)

def (87618) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520721)

Basicly, it took a turn too fast.

a picture [redteamracing.org] .

this page [redteamracing.org] is the running log put out by the group, and includes a description of the accident.

Re:Bah! (1, Funny)

slycer9 (264565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520753)

>>Nice to know 3 million dollars buys you a roll over and placement. What the hell did they do to the HUMVEE that made it roll over? I know HUMVEEs and HUMMERS, they don't roll easily.

1) Spend 3 weeks on FTX (Field Training eXercise)
2) Get REALLY bored, sneak into town for liquor.
3) Drink said liquor, decide to 'train' in nightime desert nav.
4) Top tall sand dune at 50mph @ 45 degree angle.
5) ?????
6) Figure out how to explain to 1st SGT about flipped HUMVEE.

Re:Bah! (1)

slycer9 (264565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521241)

Guess #5 should have been:

5) Grumble about Windows and praise Linux.

Jesus, the guy made a remark about HUMVEE's not rolling easily.

I tried to make a humorous post explaining that, yes, they in fact aren't that difficult to roll.

In all seriousness, in my 4 years, we rolled a grand total of 3. Only in 1 instance was alcohol involved. The other two were the same situation however, topping scooped sand dunes at high speed and the wrong angle.

It's not common, but it's not that difficult.

Center of mass to high? (1)

saigon_from_europe (741782) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521205)

I can't say for sure, but it seams to be that with all this equipment on roof, vehicle's center of mass is now much higher than it used to be, making the vehicle much more instable.

Remember the story about spelling? (1)

slycer9 (264565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520702)

The one where supposedly as long as the correct letters are there, and not necessarily in the correct order, the words can still be understood?

Am I the only one who at first glance thought this was a story about pron and Prada?

Check out March 2004's PopSci... (5, Informative)

PieEye (667629) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520726)

Popular Science has a great article in the March 2004 edition (online here at PopSci.com [popsci.com] ) called "Clash of the Headless Humvees".

Weird title, seeing how they showcase the CMU entry, a high-school entry running in an Acura (donated by a parent who works for Honda) and a single-member "team" trying to do a motorcycle entry.

Priority (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8520768)

"A truly autonomous vehicle will revolutionize land transportation. It will be a new tool certain to improve mankind's quality of life.." Red Whittaker Team director

Wrong priority, what about revolutionizing land transportation with a non polluting vehicle ..

SCORE Off-Road Racing, Checkpoints, DARPA (2, Informative)

HepCatA (313858) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520780)

I feel kinda priveleged to be part of this. DARPA is working with SCORE International Off-Road Racing (http://www.score-international.com) to do the "checkpoints" and road crossings for this event, of which I am a part of.

Basically it means sitting around all day waiting for these things to show up, but it will be fun nonetheless.

I have a feeling that this event will not have a finisher, but from what I have heard DARPA plans on carrying out this challenge for about five years anyway.

mildly suprised (1)

altaic (559466) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520870)

One of my friends works with them (I'm a student at cmu), and recently he told me that they flipped the thing and crushed a bunch of shit. Lots of the roof-mounted equipment had to be replaced. Apparently it took a turn too fast. I'm glad they were able to have it ready, and a bit surprised they were the first. They certainly seem to be striving to do their best. Anyway, knowing the red team's capabilities, we won't see that problem again. Here's to hoping and their success.

Surprised a bit by this... (2, Interesting)

vudufixit (581911) | more than 10 years ago | (#8520926)

I'm somewhat surprised that so many young people would work on a project that will help our military develop unmanned hunter-killer vehicles. Isn't this why DARPA's funding this project? I'm not against the project, just curious if there are any conscience issues involved here.

The biggest issue I have.. (2, Insightful)

Desco Bin Lada (760907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521009)

with this is simply how cheap the US military is getting away with this. Instead of setting forth a proposal, taking bids, working in tandem with one of the big development houses, they offer up a rediculously small prize. If they had gone through someone like Lockheed Martin, they project would have easily cost them into the 100 million dollar range. Oh well. Hopefully the military will get what they paid for.

Re:The biggest issue I have.. (2, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521112)

which method is likely to come up with the more innovative solution?

you think this is a bad idea? they have how many engineers and people working on the problem? and if they used a 100 million and a team of lockheed martin?
and you think this is WRONG?

Re:The biggest issue I have.. (1)

DrewBeavis (686624) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521125)

This is the current trend with all industry, not just the government. Most companies have scaled back R&D because of budget cuts, and outsource this to universities. The engineering school I work for has several military and private sector R&D projects. Hopefully the bright students who work on this stuff get jobs when they graduate. The companies don't have to spend as much money, but they still get products and new technology.

Re:The biggest issue I have.. (1)

jonny4001 (144859) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521275)

Because whenever the military awards a single development contract, the project comes in overbudget, late, and sometimes Congress scraps the whole program (See Comanche).

Hopefully the military gets more than it paid for; why are you hoping for failure?

Broadcast? (1)

s88 (255181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8521101)

Anyone know if there are plans to televize or broadcast the race in any form?
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