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DARPA Grand Challenge Finalists Announced

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the we-who-may-be-about-to-die-salute-you dept.

Robotics 129

Xerotope writes "DARPA announced today the 23 finalists[pdf warning] of the DARPA Grand Challenge at the closing ceremonies of the National Qualifying Event. Carnegie Mellon University's Red Team will start on Saturday with the first and third positions, with 'H1ghlander' taking the pole position and 'Sandstorm' following 10 minutes later. Stanford's 'Stanley' will start second. Of the 43 semi-finalists, 23 robots managed to finish the 2.2 mile course at least once. 5 robots (Stanford, Red Team, Red Team Too, Axion Racing, and Team Teramax) completed all of their runs. CMU's 'H1ghlander' and 'Sandstorm' finished the four runs with an average time of 10 minutes, 20 seconds each. Stanford's Stanley average time was 10:43."

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129 comments

Flash (0, Offtopic)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730631)

Why do people like to use Flash (on http://www.grandchallenge.org/ [grandchallenge.org]) to communicate textual information? I find that highly annoying and difficult to use.

Re:Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13730799)

Because it looks cool. To protect against copying and pasting the text (I said "the text," not "a picture of the text"). Because it looks cool. Because not everyone has the font I like. Because it looks cool.

Disabled for ads? (1)

Fen14 (917322) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730816)

I'm considering doing that. Had enough of that Crucial vibrating ad (oh, and I'll make sure never to buy from them too).

Re:Flash (0, Offtopic)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730858)

Didn't you know? Flash is it! You can't have a web page nowadays without having Flash.

Want to show a table? Put it in Flash! Want to show a single image? Put it in Flash! Want to hear the sound of humping wombats? Put it in Flash!

The days of providing a useful website where one can find the information they are looking for are over. Now, to be really l337, you have to make sure your site uses every available bell and whistle to insure the maximum bandwidth usage possible so that when people on dial-up whine about a site taking forever to load you can respond with the proverbial, "Get broadband you luser! Everybody else has it!"

Now just slap a cyberthalamus in (3, Funny)

Fen14 (917322) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730636)

And you have a sentient robot car. But you gotta make a cyberthalamus first.

The summary is not enough... (0, Offtopic)

op12 (830015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730648)

How about providing a link to more information?

Seriously, isn't that a bit overboard?

More information and Video coverage here (5, Informative)

rayver (770680) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730918)

Video coverage here (there's a whole bunch. The overview, stanley and ghostrider ones are awesome!):

http://www.cartv.com.nyud.net:8090/content/researc h/channels/index.cfm/channel/cartv_video/action/sh owvideo/vid/e_0145/vcat/Event/ [nyud.net]
NQE final paper:

http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/NQEfinal1.pdf [darpa.mil]

And more announcements can be found on:

http://www.grandchallenge.org/ [grandchallenge.org]

Also, a good summary of things that have been happening can be found in the discussion forum:

https://dtsn.darpa.mil/grandc/forum/topic.asp?topi c_id=1636&forum_id=30&Topic_Title=NQE&forum_title= Grand+Challenge+Event&M=False&S= [darpa.mil]

=====
A post by Espina reads:
Hi! ...stopped by the NQE last week and this whole Tuesday and I must say that all the work accomplished on all the AGVs was very impressive. ...for those who couldn't be there the following bots all had runs in the morning session: "Mojavaton, DAD, CIMAR, Insight Racing, Golem Group, ENSCO, Princeton, MonsterMoto, Team Jefferson, UCF,, AION, Cajunbot, Banzai, Gray Team, Mitre Meteorites, Virginia Tech Grand Challenge Team, Austin Robot, Desert Buckeyes." All had full runs except five. Majavaton and Insight Racing which both collided with a vehicle/obstacle within 100 yards of the finish line. Aion decided to skip the course and circle back directly to the finish line but a K- rail barrier refused to co-operate. The UCF bot went walkabout on the back 40 towards the NASCAR track and Austin Robotics got sulky in the first loop when the crowd left for lunch during its run. MonsterMoto was given a restart because a chase truck encroached on the route near the start. ...according to some team members from Ensco, the afternoon session was a chance for the teams "on the cusp" to improve their standings. Austin Robotics, CajunBot, VT, Team Banzai, Mojavaton, the Mitre Group, and the Gray Team all had additional runs. ...Mojavaton, VT, Mitre (had two) and the Gray Team all had full runs. The Gray Team had two runs but was unable to to get GPS back after the tunnel on the first run so they made a few adjustments and had a stellar 2nd run. It seemed like a time/constelation problem. CajunBot made it to the last Obstacle/vehicle to the chagrin of the crowd. Team Banzai froze contemplating a witch's hat on a downhill transition at the end of the first loop and Austin Robotics lost GPS (and its way) after the tunnel... ...after that the best of the rest ran (Autonosys, Blue Team, Overbot, Indiana Robotic NAV, BJB Engineering, Team Juggernaut, Autonomous Vehicle Systems, Team Tormenta, Indy Robot Racing, Terra Engineering, PVHA Road Warriors, CyberRider, AI Motorvators, Team Underdawg. )with most of the teams wiping out the first barrier, and/or re-arranging the hay bales at the tunnel entrance, colliding with the tunnel entrance and losing GPS after the tunnel. However, IT, from AI motorvaters had a full run on the shortened RDDF and TerraHawk made it thru most of the hard parts. Overbot ran very thoroughly and cautiously but froze on the downhill transition. ...if any of this information is incorrect please feel free to fix...I could be suffering the effects of sunstroke... ...anyhow, good luck all and I admire dedication of all of the teams on completing an AGV. ...see y'all in Primm, Espina

Re:More information and Video coverage here (3, Informative)

rayver (770680) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731068)

oops.. didn't realize the NQEfinal paper and the grandchallenge links were already provided. Anyway, some more links (to articles):

http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/06/darpa2005_featur e_update/ [tgdaily.com]

"Blue Team" runs self-righting motorcycle at darpa Grand Challenge
http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/03/darpa2005_featur e_update/ [tgdaily.com]

DARPA Grand Challenge update #3: Interview with Team Cornell
http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/02/darpa_cornell_in terview/ [tgdaily.com]

DARPA Grand Challenge update #2: A chat with Team Mojavaton
http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/02/darpa_grand_chal lenge_update2/ [tgdaily.com]

DARPA Grand Challenge Update #1: Qualification Day 1 results
http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/02/darpa_grand_chal lenge_update1/ [tgdaily.com]

Gearing up for the DARPA Grand Challenge:
http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/01/darpa_grand_chal lenge_introduction/ [tgdaily.com]

Robot Finalists Duped: +1, Informative (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13730963)


into participating in the military-industrial complex [whitehouse.org].

Meanwhile, George W. Bush proclaims the spread of [washingtonpost.com]
democracy.

Wake up, Amerika, and smell the insidious agenda of BushCo.

Regards,
K. Grout, C.T.O.

Terminator or Explorer? (3, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730657)

The question is...Will this technology be used primarily for unmanned military weapons? Or, will it be used in a more gentile fashion to explore hostile environments such as the Moon, Mars and the other planets?
Let's hope this technology will be used to advance our understanding of our planet and the universe.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Insightful)

exi1ed0ne (647852) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730695)

The answer to what use they will put this to: Whatever they can get away with.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Funny)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730700)

Actually, I think the real question is:

"How long until the UN and EU assert control over all of these inventions...and expect the United States to manufacture them for free, under the banner of human rights?"

That's what I wonder...

I don't care at this point. (0, Troll)

Fen14 (917322) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730715)

The military is behind some great technologies, and ultimately those will lead to posthumanism. That goal is so important that I don't care if the military tortures kittens on a regular basis to help get there. Once we are posthuman, we can "advance our understanding of our planet and the universe" and stop torturing kittens. Nothing else matters.

Re:I don't care at this point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13730931)

Fen,

You are a dork. I am not sure what your fascination is with posthumanism. You post about it in every thread regardless of its applicability. I am not sure if you are physically deformed, or just hate yourself, but your obsession is not healthy. Go outside. Make friends. Get a hobby. Grow up.

Me

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13730866)

Well golly, since the whole thing is sponsored by DARPA, an agency of the US Department of Defense, I think they'll use this technology to ^(80948Q#4NO CARRIER

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (3, Insightful)

SpyPlane (733043) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730988)

I don't know about these being used as unmanned 'weapons', but certainly the military will use them for transport vehicles. The real reason for this competition was to create technology that would save lives. This is even more appropriate now that a majority of deaths over in Iraq are due to road side bombs. Right now, weapon control systems will still have a human somewhere in the loop.

The bombs will drive themselves (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731838)

I don't know about these being used as unmanned 'weapons', but certainly the military will use them for transport vehicles. The real reason for this competition was to create technology that would save lives. This is even more appropriate now that a majority of deaths over in Iraq are due to road side bombs.

Trouble is, once this technology becomes widespread, the bombs aren't going to be just roadside, they'll be driving themselves right up to you. Imagine the damage a swarm of autonomous vehicles could do to a convoy, or to a targeted building, and how hard it would be to defend against them. We might then need to develop counter-autonomous vehicles to protect ourselves from enemy autonomous vehicles. Should be a good era for advancement of autonomous vehicles, but it's going to bring its own set of problems.

Autonomous Bombs (1)

SeanDuggan (732224) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732695)

Obviously you haven't been watching the actual competition. All you need to do to stop these things is set some traffic cones out. Or, worse, cast ominous shadows along the ground.

Seriously though, I suspect that if autonomous bombs come about, landmines will come back in style.

Re:The bombs will drive themselves (1)

BrettJB (64947) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732973)

We might then need to develop counter-autonomous vehicles to protect ourselves from enemy autonomous vehicles


Ok, so will our counter-autonomous vehicles be called Autobots or Decepticons?

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731920)

technology that would save lives. This is even more appropriate now that a majority of deaths over in Iraq are due to road side bombs.

No.

A majority of U.S. casualties are due to road side bombs.
The majority of deaths in Iraq is no that of U.S. forces, however.

Maybe the technology will save soldier's lives, but it will mostly free up soldier's time to go shoot at those people you don't even count as "lives".

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (1)

SpyPlane (733043) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732678)

Sorry, I forgot to bookend my post with <america_is_evil> tags. I can't believe it. I was selfishly mentioning the saving of U.S. lives and only because we are talking about a U.S. Defense competition. Jesus, what was I thinking.

<\america_is_evil>

Next time you reply, can you at least bookend your post with <vagina> tags?

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#13733108)

Sorry, I forgot to bookend my post with tags. I can't believe it. I was selfishly mentioning the saving of U.S. lives and only because we are talking about a U.S. Defense competition. Jesus, what was I thinking.

You were replying to:
The question is...Will this technology be used primarily for unmanned military weapons? Or, will it be used in a more gentile fashion to explore hostile environments such as the Moon, Mars and the other planets?


With an attempt to pass off this military technology as a lifesaver. Well, by your awesome logic, the A-Bomb saves lives, think of all the hazards you'd be exposing soldiers to if you sent them in to kill thousands of people the old fashion way!
Sheesh.

Well, at least you're following in a long line of insane delusions about weapons systems saving lives, Mr. Gatling was convinced that his machine gun would save lives too: You need fewer guns to fire the same amount of bullets, so they'll send smaller armies to war, so less deaths! Gattling was a good engineer, but he was WAY off about machine guns saving lives. Just like you'll be when the robot convoys start rolling, you'll see.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13733442)

Jesus, what was I thinking.

Apparently you were thinking that lives don't count unless they are American lives. You are welcome to hold that view but don't expect it to play well outside of Possum Hollow. btw, what was the vagina thing about? Was that just a drunken brain fart or was there a message there?

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Insightful)

mother pussbucket (237676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732258)

Just like the a-bomb.

Manhattan project scientist: "but we never thought they'd use it..."

Funking dipsticks.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (3, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730999)

Hopefully it will go into the scientific community and then onto the open market, where it can be used by any party for any purpose.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Insightful)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731681)

Yeah, you could do pretty interesting things with it.

Combine it with a rental system, for instance -- and have it meet you at your doorstep and drive you to your destination. And then drive itself back to to wherever it next needs to be.

One could also see it being useful for the elderly -- those with poor eyesight or reflexes, and who don't want to have to depend on somebody else to drive them. Ditto for others not able to drive themselves. Maybe you won't need designated drivers anymore.

Theoretically, an autonomous vehicle should be able to pick up one's kids and drive them elsewhere if it's scheduled (time and location) and the parents are both busy, but I have my doubts as to whether this would be a good thing to do.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Funny)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732181)

Theoretically, an autonomous vehicle should be able to pick up one's kids and drive them elsewhere if it's scheduled (time and location) and the parents are both busy, but I have my doubts as to whether this would be a good thing to do.

I can see a movie around the idea of someone reprogramming people's cars (yay bluetooth hacks!) to deliver their children to a sweatshop: it's got everything, fear of technology, the opportunity for some wicked robot car chase scenes ...

We can't even imagine the uses this will be put to (5, Insightful)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731027)

The answer of course is that, once autonomous vehicles are possible and proven, the door is open to any use. The military will use them to deliver supplies, and so will relief organizations. Private companies will use them to transport materials for, for example, the building of remote pipelines or roads. Ranchers will use them to patrol the boundaries of their acreage. Security companies will employ autonomous vehicles to keep an eye on the perimeters of land they're guarding. Universities will use them to explore the arctic, antarctic, and other hostile environments. Radical nutjobs will use them to deliver deadly payloads instead of using human beings. And there will be a host of applications that we haven't even thought of yet.

Re:We can't even imagine the uses this will be put (2, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731646)

> The answer of course is that, once autonomous vehicles are possible and proven, the door is open to any use.
> ... military ... deliver supplies ... building remote pipelines ... patrol acreage ... guarding perimeters ... explore hostile environments ... deliver deadly payloads ... And there will be a host of applications that we haven't even thought of yet

Yes, but how will this apply to porn?
Everyone knows porn drives all new technology.

Re:We can't even imagine the uses this will be put (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731989)

And there will be a host of applications. . .

Girlfriend.

KFG

Re:We can't even imagine the uses this will be put (1)

opec (755488) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732719)

I suspect that some will even be used to scour the galaxy to search for hidden rebel bases.

Re:We can't even imagine the uses this will be put (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732744)

Radical nutjobs will use them to deliver deadly payloads instead of using human beings.

So they question is, do jihadi robots get 99 virgin nerds to repair them in heaven?

Re:We can't even imagine the uses this will be put (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732786)

Radical nutjobs are not going to pay $100,000 for an autonomous car when recruting other nutjobs to blow them selvs up is much cheaper.

Re:We can't even imagine the uses this will be put (1)

F_Scentura (250214) | more than 8 years ago | (#13733293)

Remote mine detonation would certainly be a decent use of these machines, once they become cheap enough to be properly disposable.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Funny)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731149)

"more gentile fashion"

Wait a second. "Gentile"? Like, as in, non-Jewish?

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (4, Insightful)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731153)

Will this technology be used primarily for unmanned military weapons?

This phase is intentionally designed for developing unmanned transport vehicles for use in low/no traffic, rugged areas. Think resupply and medivac. That alone would vastly reduce support overhead and threat to support troops (who generally aren't wandering around in heavily armored vehicles like front line troops).

It's not designed for use as a weapons platform (there is no ability to determine threats or potential targets), nor for usage on other planets -- all of the vehicles make use of GPS to some degree (they can operate without, but are handicapped) and we don't exactly have constellations of sats flying around any other stellar bodies.

The military isn't particularly interested in completely autonomous weapon systems -- it's too damn dangerous to your own people. The last thing you need is an autonomous anti-tank or anti-infantry mis-identifying your own (or your allies) weapons/troops as targets and eliminating them. We have enough friendly fire problems with humans at the controls -- and robots are far, far behind humans when it comes to properly identifying things.

There's plenty of civilian uses too -- another reply already mentioned a good number of them.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Insightful)

Kozz (7764) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731531)

This phase is intentionally designed for developing unmanned transport vehicles for use in low/no traffic, rugged areas. Think resupply and medivac. That alone would vastly reduce support overhead and threat to support troops (who generally aren't wandering around in heavily armored vehicles like front line troops).

Well, that sounds good, in theory. Now I admittedly don't know what sort of AI or algorithms these autonomous vehicles are using to navigate and make "decisions", but if you've got an unmanned vehicle with supplies (read: easy target), it would still need to be protected from "abduction". I'd imagine a vehicle like this would probably stop cold if surrounded (360 degrees of obstacles) by other vehicles, at which point the abductees could take what's inside, and leave. Unless this vehicle is also accompanied by manned and armed escorts. And at that point, why not just give the escorts a remote control, rather than all that fancy AI/computer gear?

Then again, I'm not any sort of military strategist, nor do I really know anything about the battlefield. But it seems to me that military uses wouldn't be the best choice for this hypothetical tool. Or am I overlooking the solutions to these problems I've mentioned above?

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (1)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731775)

if you've got an unmanned vehicle with supplies (read: easy target)

You're thinking wrong, simply because what's in these supply vehicles isn't an interesting target, at least not in our current theaters of operations. You probably wouldn't want to have them transport ammo (although, really, if you just transported bullets and clips w/o guns then they'd be useless -- the insurgents use AK-47s by and large, which use drastically different ammo from M16s), but transporting food, water, fuel, mail, medical supplies, etc. is still vital. And very little of that is desirous to an insurgent, who generally doesn't think in terms of cutting off a supply train.

Most importantly, you don't have anyone in the vehicle, so if a roadside bomb goes off you don't lose any people. There's also nobody to kidnap. And insurgents don't go ape over blowing up a car or two -- it's the casualties that they care about.

I'd imagine a vehicle like this would probably stop cold if surrounded (360 degrees of obstacles) by other vehicles, at which point the abductees could take what's inside, and leave

Well, it's not like the supply vehicle isn't going to have locks on it. And if it gets stuck in any way, shape, or form when it's not expecting to then it'll probably phone home. It'd be an awful shame to have a Blackhawk, Apache, F-16, or even a Predator see you looting one of these things. I doubt the military would take kindly to that. If you're lucky they'll simply kill you on the spot. If you're unlucky they'll tail you to your base and then kill you and your friends.

But, again, the concern for supply vehicles isn't someone stopping and taking them -- it's roadside bombs (which is the cause of something like 80-90% of all casualties in Iraq). And this essentially eliminates the usefulness of those devices.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (1)

arkanes (521690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732451)

Wow. I mean, WOW.

the insurgents use AK-47s by and large, which use drastically different ammo from M16s

True, but that is because of the availability of AK47s and the ammo for them, not because nasty terrorist hands are burned by the righteous grips of the M-16. In the very worst case ammo makes a handy ingredient in jury rigged bombs.

And very little of that is desirous to an insurgent, who generally doesn't think in terms of cutting off a supply train.

Yes, those terrorists are so damn stupid they don't realize the value of water, food, and medical supplies. There can't possibly be any need for those when you're a decentralized guerilla army fighting against a better organized and equipped force. And they're so stupid they can't even concieve of tactics a 12 year old playing Risk might come up with, and certainly none of them have ever recieved paramilitary training, because there weren't any US or Russian "advisors" organizing such training all over the middle east in the last 20 years.

Well, it's not like the supply vehicle isn't going to have locks on it. And if it gets stuck in any way, shape, or form when it's not expecting to then it'll probably phone home.

It's a little known fact that none of our existing supply vehicles have locks or radios on them. Because if they did, they'd be invulnerable to those damn stupid terrorists. And if only we stopped filling our all our supply transports with people, and only had a couple drivers in each truck, they wouldn't attack any more, because they only care about causalties.

Way to go mister military mastermind. It sure is a good thing terrorists are too stupid to read English or use the Internet, otherwise they might read your post and realize all the mistakes they're making. Here's a quick hint: action movies and the crap shows on Fox and SpikeTV are not neccesarily accurate depictions of warfare.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Interesting)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732804)

because nasty terrorist hands are burned by the righteous grips of the M-16

Yes, because I implied that. Note that I said that you wouldn't want to ship the guns as well.

And yes, you could use the ammo in jury rigged bombs... but there's not much in a casing, or even a clip. It's a horrendously inefficient way to make an explosive. There are household chemicals you can combine to have far more explosive power in far less space.

The stuff you don't want them getting are the bombs, artillary shells, tank shells, etc. -- those have extremely potent chemical explosives that aren't easily manufacturered, but can easily be "repurposed" (often without even bothering to crack the shell).

Yes, those terrorists are so damn stupid they don't realize the value of water, food, and medical supplies.

The medical supplies may very well be needed (especially US military grade ones), but they're generally not in dire need of food or water. Not enough to expend the kind of resources required to stop a convoy. As for cutting the supply lines -- yes, it's basic tactics. It's also utterly ineffective against a modern army in these circumstances. We can easily airlift supplies to the troops if necessary, and supply convoys are so numerous that they simply cannot cut off enough to significantly harm the forces -- not without exposing themselves drastically.

And if only we stopped filling our all our supply transports with people, and only had a couple drivers in each truck, they wouldn't attack any more, because they only care about causalties

Sure they'd attack, but it would be ineffective. And they'd be wasting resources on taking out unmanned vehicles which have very little value -- even monetarily, it'd be cheaper in the long run to use unmanned supply trucks than it would be to up armor and provide security for all of them. Not to mention the enlisted men that you free for other duties. Not to mention the reduced political and resource costs that would come from fewer people dieing.

Here's a quick hint: action movies and the crap shows on Fox and SpikeTV are not neccesarily accurate depictions of warfare.

That's nice. I don't watch either channel.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (1)

arkanes (521690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13733295)

The medical supplies may very well be needed (especially US military grade ones), but they're generally not in dire need of food or water. Not enough to expend the kind of resources required to stop a convoy.

Except that we just established that mechanized convoys would be much easier to stop, because they don't have human drivers and don't have armed escorts. And, of course, stopping a convoy not only means more supplies for you, it means less for your enemy. And you're drastically over-estimating the resources required to stop a normal convoy, much less one made up of autonomous trucks.

If cutting supply chains is so ineffective, why do we even still use convoys and trucks? Because it's more dangerous and more expensive to airlift supplies than it is to convoy them. Forcing you to airlift because you can't get supplies through a region on the ground is hardly ineffectual.

There are good reasons to use autonomous convoys. There's good reasons to work on the research. Thinking that one of those reasons is because the enemy won't attack them or that it won't matter if they do is stupid.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (1)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732890)

But what if it's not insurgents? What if it's just hungry locals? Or folks who want to steal stuff for sale on the grey market?

The essential problem is not "Why would you want to stop an autonomous vehicle?" (I can think of plenty of reasons why people *would* want to stop them no matter what they're carrying, and yet not be 'insurgents'). It's "What does the vehicle do if it's stopped, and how does this impact it's mission?".

Not thinking these things through leads to a typical failure of imagination that gets people killed.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (1)

Dexx (34621) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731962)

Rather than loot the vehicle, why not put the bombs on it instead of on the roadside? That way there will definately be troops around at some point and even if they defuse the bomb before it goes off, it lessens the usefulness of the automated supply convoy - instead of having bombs on the roadside, now they're brought into the base by friendly vehicles.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732214)

Rather than loot the vehicle, why not put the bombs on it instead of on the roadside? That way there will definately be troops around at some point and even if they defuse the bomb before it goes off, it lessens the usefulness of the automated supply convoy - instead of having bombs on the roadside, now they're brought into the base by friendly vehicles.

You're assuming an autmoated convoy would not be gaurded by real people. I could see a use for this in freeing up guys that drive the straight supply trucks, but keeping guards around the perimiter. If nothing else, just have a few helicopters guarding a large convoy instead. The nice thing about this is it frees up drivers who are otherwise useless other than for "driving away" when you need to keep the trucks moving (ie can't).

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732871)

All you would need is a couple of Helicopters, Hellfire Preditors, or something else in the air to protect the convoy route. After the 1st couple attempts at hijacking the the vechiles the hijacki's numbers would be much smaller. I imaging that the vechiles will have a manual over ride and can be driven remotly. The real danger would be someone attaching a bomb on the vechiles and having it detoniate once inside a base.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Interesting)

James.Stanton (819324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732878)

It's not designed for use as a weapons platform (there is no ability to determine threats or potential targets), nor for usage on other planets -- all of the vehicles make use of GPS to some degree (they can operate without, but are handicapped) and we don't exactly have constellations of sats flying around any other stellar bodies.

Not yet anyway: Red Planet Wayfinder: A GPS System for Mars [space.com]. Don't think these guys (meaning the current US administration) aren't going to weaponize everything they can get their hands on.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13731342)

Will this technology be used primarily for unmanned military weapons

I'm sure the military would love to have autonomous supply vehicles. This would avoid the hassles of Private Benjamin getting lost because she can't read a map and then getting her unit shot to pieces.

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (2, Funny)

Schaffner (183973) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732431)

"The question is...Will this technology be used primarily for unmanned military weapons? Or, will it be used in a more gentile fashion to explore hostile environments such as the Moon, Mars and the other planets?"

Actually, I think most uses will be for gentile purposes; unless the Israeli's get involved. :-)

Re:Terminator or Explorer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13733218)

If they are going to use these unmanned robots for space exproration, they better figure out the whole internal combustion engine....thing

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13730673)

I would have had first post, but I was on Sandstorm and wasn't fast enough.

Ghost Rider (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13730686)

Too bad Ghost Rider did not make it. :( Check it out http://www.ghostriderrobot.com/ [ghostriderrobot.com]

Re:Ghost Rider (2, Interesting)

MatD (895409) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731344)

While I had hoped that it would make it, those hopes weren't very high. Using a two wheeeled vehicle instead of a four wheel vehicle just adds needless compilications to the whole thing. A four (or three) wheeled vehicle can stop where it is while it tries to determine terrain etc. A two wheeled vehicle has to keep moving. If it wants to go backwards, it has to circle around.

Even though they didn't make it, hats off to 'em.

Re:Ghost Rider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13731955)

Using a two wheeeled vehicle instead of a four wheel vehicle just adds needless compilications to the whole thing.
This is true. However, I saw the Ghostrider team on the Discovery-Science channel, and the guy behind it didn't seem that interested in actually winning the event. He was simply more interested in making an autonomous motorcycle than he was in making an autonomous car or truck. It was clear from the program that the motorcycle was having a lot of trouble on just a paved road, and even more trouble on uneven terrain. Still, the guy behind it seems very smart, and I think if he keeps up at it, he'll have a working autonomous motorcycle in just a few years. Maybe an autonomous racing league will spring up to keep these people motivated.

Re:Ghost Rider (0, Troll)

Snar Bloot (324250) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732094)

Cool videos on that site. As I was watching some of them, it occured to me that another huge flaw with the 2-wheeled vehicle is it's inability to go very slowly. Or inch up to something. Seems like some pretty big limitations to overcome.

Re:Ghost Rider (0, Redundant)

Snar Bloot (324250) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732140)

After watching further videos...I see that Ghost Rider is not just a 2-wheeled device. It has arms it can lower to right itself, and presumably for very slow movement or holding itself upright when stationary.

Re:Ghost Rider (1)

Rufus211 (221883) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731977)

The only reason they're there to begin with is because they're so damn cool, there's no way they could realistically compete in the full race. However check out this video by the stanford team, about one minute in:

http://cs.stanford.edu/group/roadrunner/video/NQE- Day-Three.wmv [stanford.edu]

The motorcycle runs into a fence and falls over, then manages to right itself and keep going pushing through the fence. That's pretty damn amazing.

What about the Rockhurst entry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13730837)

Does anyone know whether the Rockhurst College entry finished the course, and what place it is in?

well if the summary isn't going to explain it... (5, Informative)

fanblade (863089) | more than 8 years ago | (#13730990)

If you're wondering what the DARPA Challenge is, you have to scroll to the bottom the their flash website [grandchallenge.org]:

"The DARPA Grand Challenge is an unprecedented government effort to accelerate research and development in autonomous ground vehicles to help save American lives on the battlefield. DARPA will award $2 million to the autonomous (robotic) ground vehicle that can successfully navigate a challenging desert course of approximately 150 miles the fastest (in less than 10 hours). The vehicles must find and follow a prescribed course route, avoid obstacles, and negotiate turns, all while travelling at militarily-relevant rates of speed. The ground vehicles are fully autonomous - not remote-controlled."

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (2, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731072)

Well, I think it's good to use robotic soldiers to spare soldiers' lives... but shouldn't the enemy have their own robotic soldiers, too?

Otherwise, it won't be a war. It will be a masacre.

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731207)

If you're on the winning side, you can call it whatever you want.

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731547)

War isn't about fairness. You want to see the results of similar technology, fervor and doctrine? Try Antietam or Gettysburg and consider the results.

One of the most reliable ways to prevent a war is to thoroughly convince an enemy that they have no chance whatsoever, and that they're better off -not- fighting. That should appeal to humanitarians.

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732047)

Right. "We can fucking destroy you without even bothering to risk our own asses, so you better do whatever the hell we want."

Us humanitarians just love the sound of that.

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (2, Insightful)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732370)

Considering that "humanitarians" frequently go on and on about how human life is paramount, that for a home owner to not take EVERY means to de-escalate a situation including running away from his own property, and that to defend yourself is to be judge, jury and executioner -- you'd think you WOULD love that.

Because, of course, it doesn't matter if they burn your house and steal your property; you're not supposed to value your property over their life. Gosh, they might even be mentally ill and therefore it's not really their fault. Oh well.

(And yes, that's the sort of argument one hears an awful lot... on Fark, anyway.)

On a less incendiary note, you should take note that it's not infrequently the slightly disadvantaged side that starts wars -- but that they do not necessarily fully realize their own difficulties. For example: In retrospect, a sane analysis should have indicated that the Confederacy, with much inferior manpower, industrial base, and naval forces and no real advantage in doctrine (officers in both sides having been trained through the same system) was essentially doomed barring a sudden shock that would make war politically unpalatable for the North. The "one of ours is worth ten of theirs because our boys learned to shoot when young" spiel and other myths, however, combined with bravado to apparently mislead them. Were they facing a force that they could not see any means to defeat, they probably wouldn't have started a war, and a rather great number of people wouldn't have died. You wouldn't have had the abuses of Reconstruction, and perhaps the South would have been less ready for the rise of the Klan.

It might also have been suggested that for Germany and Japan to have thought they could win against the rest of the world over the long haul was insane, based on population, area, resource distribution, and so forth. Japan, in particular, had vulnerable supply lines... It took an awful lot of inhumanity to prove them wrong.

But if Saddam -knew- that the US would have intervened after the Kuwait situation, and he -knew- that the US had not only the military means but the political will to defeat him utterly, would he have gone ahead anyway? Assuming that he was even slightly rational, he probably would have backed down instead of trying to enforce his territorial claims, and we wouldn't have ended up with years of sanctions hurting his general population while illicit oil revenue found its way into his palaces. Wars start when people think they can win, even when they're actually wrong.

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13732632)

Japan, in particular, had vulnerable supply lines... It took an awful lot of inhumanity to prove them wrong.

Their vulnerability to outside influence on their supply lines (pre-war) was one of the reasons that they made a land-grab to ensure that they would no longer be dependent on others.

I seem to recall that they might've even been pushed over the edge by an embargo. (Which showed that unless they took steps to control their energy supply, they were going to be at the mercy of others.)

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13733267)

"(And yes, that's the sort of argument one hears an awful lot... on Fark, anyway.)"

Who the *hell* goes to FARK for the politics?

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (1)

PaxTech (103481) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732424)

You humanitarians should thank your lucky stars that the country that will have that power is a generally benevolent one. If we lived in a different world and it was the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany who had an unstoppable robot army things would be much, much worse.

Cue replies about US "imperialism", noting the irony that if the US was actually interested in an empire, no one would be permitted to complain about it.

War Philosophy (1)

SeanDuggan (732224) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732747)

Yup, and weapons like the Gatling gun and atomic bombs will make war such a horrifying thing that no one will want to fight. There will always be people willing to throw themselves onto the bayonets so as to allow the fanatics behind them to attack. Just look at the Marines... (nothing actually against the Marines except that they are one crazy group of SOBs.)

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (1)

caffeined (150240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731609)

Um, do you really think that the generals and decision-makers in *any* military organization are concerned about making sure the *other* side gets a "fair" shake?

No - they don't, and they shouldn't. Their job is to equip their forces with the best tools to win the fight. Giving the other side access to the same tools would be self-defeating, no?

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731806)

This wasn't done with the sword, the longbow, the cannon, the rifle, the machine gun, the tank, the airplane, the atomic bomb, or any other weapon ever invented. Why start here?

Well, duh (1)

tacokill (531275) | more than 8 years ago | (#13733085)

Yes, it's always a good idea in wartime to give your enemy the same combat tools and advantages you have.

Seriously. Don't you WANT to be on the side that has the technological advantage? During war, I sure as hell do. I want every single advantage possible because war is war. It's not some polite disagreement between parties. What's the old saying, "All is fair in love and war"?

Re:Well, duh (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13733224)

Yes, but when we reach the point of declaring war against other countries just because they happen to have the oil we "need"... oh yeah. Look what the shrub just said:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051006/ap_on_go_pr_wh /bush_iraq [yahoo.com]

"The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia."

Oh yes! The evil islamists! Let's crush them with our invincible machine tanks!

I can only imagine the terror and rage on their side when they find out they're not fighting against humans, but machines. So, upon WHOM will they take their revenge?

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (1)

epicstruggle (311178) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731863)

Anyone know what station/website will carry live coverage(video) of the race?

Re:well if the summary isn't going to explain it.. (1)

Kallahar (227430) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732210)

The entries this year are much more impressive than last. Last year DARPA had to make the qualifications easier in order to get enough vehicles to qualify for the race. Many bots had basic errors such as driving in circles when GPS was lost. Many failed from simple mechanical or software problems such as "forgot to turn off the go_slow_for_safety flag".

This year the qualifications were more difficult, including a tunnel shielded with metal which was designed to test the ability to drive through a tunnel as well as what the bot does in case of loss of GPS signal. Many of the teams were able to complete the course with no difficulties and on the first attempt.

Hopefully this will all add up to at least one vehicle completing the course. One DARPA official (unofficial) said they thought five bots would probably finish this year.

The team to watch? Princeton. They have a really simple setup, all of their object detection is done via stereo cameras using software written by one student. Very impressive.

progress on the cheap (3, Insightful)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731164)

These DARPA competitions (and those of other organizations) have got to be one of the best ways to come up with new and useful technology. Instead of rowboat races, the bright and motivated students of top universities (as well as other entusiasts) compete against each other for a battle of imagination and ingenuity to win not useless trophies but the thrill of having created something of potential practical use. Also, these competitions help boost the reputations of the colleges and universities as these often get media coverage, and if you've noticed, they've got their school's name on their autonomous submarines. And of course, DARPA gets some cheap R&D.

Fair elimination (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731412)

I like that they added a short qualification round to weed out the weakest competitors. Last year they just arbitrarily decided who was going to be allowed to run the course.

Re:Fair elimination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13731583)

No, that's not true. They had a pre-qual round last time as well.

Re:Fair elimination (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732773)

Dig back a few months in the coverage of this. I'm pretty sure there was an arbitrary decision as to who would be allowed to attend this year as well. I seem to remember some noise back in the spring / early-summer.

DARPA Announces 2005 Grand Challenge Semifinalists [slashdot.org]
DARPA announced 40 semifinalists for the 2005 Grand Challenge autonomous robot race today. Notable remaining teams include the Carnegie Mellon University Red Team, Stanford Racing and a high school team, the Palos Verde Road Warriors. 78 teams missed the cut.

DARPA Grand Challenge Teams Submit Videos to DARPA [slashdot.org]

DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 Rules Announced [slashdot.org]

Still too slow (3, Insightful)

Krater76 (810350) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731517)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's very difficult to cover 150 miles in 10 hours, obviously, you need a minimum speed of 15 mph. Their 2.2-mile semifinal course had a best average time of 10:20. That's still just under 13 mph. If the average time was 8 minutes or less I'd be excited.

Don't get me wrong I'm very impressed with the results so far but it might just not be enough. Here's to hoping that they can make up some time elsewhere.

Re:Still too slow (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731668)

No. You need an average speed of at least 15 mph. Your speed can be 0 at times while you think about how to avoid an obsticle, or even negative if you decide you need to back up to go around one.

Re:Still too slow (4, Informative)

not5150 (732114) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731804)

Due to the speed limits imposed at the qualifications, the vehicles could not get much better times.

At the qualifications, there were mandatory speed limits imposed in most (if not all) the areas. In the RDDF file, there are the GPS coordinates and a speed limit number. For example, the straight away was 40mph while some of the obstacle strewn areas was 5 mph. The vehicles are capable of going faster and in fact a couple vehicles maxed out the 40 mph on the straight away.

DARPA officials at the media press conference on Wednesday said that if they stick to the race speed limits, then they will finish in about 6 1/2 to 7 hours. In the real race, there are hard speed limits and then there are suggested limits (which a team can break). The suggested speed limits are in low obstacle areas, but are suggeseted so that the chase vehicle doesn't lose sight of the robot. Remember that this race is being held in the desert, so the dust kicked up could obscure it from view.

Quirky fact, the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) mandates 25 mph or less in desert tortoise areas. You gotta love beauracracy.

Some of this is explained in my article on tgdaily.com

http://www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/06/darpa2005_featur e_update/ [tgdaily.com]

Re:Still too slow (2, Interesting)

Krezel (91860) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732186)

Speeds in the NQE event were limited by DARPA. They hand us a file containing waypoints, speeds, and track widths that we're limited to. Go too fast or wander outside the gates and they penalize you. The speeds at the NQE event are not representative of what you'll get to see once the robots are in the open desert.

Highlander's record time was only 7 seconds slower than the "course ideal" that you could expect to get if you went exactly the speed limit all the way around. In fact, we were scolded by DARPA for pushing the speed limit to get that time. They didn't think we could do it without speeding.

Re:Still too slow (3, Informative)

Mockingbird (51545) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732313)

There were hard speed limits set on various sections of the qualifier course. The best performing vehicle, H1ghlander, executed the course within a few seconds of the best possible time given the constraints. Performance on the NQE course has about as much to do with race-success as grating cheese does with belly dancing.

At least three of the vehicles that qualified for the race have performed 170 mile runs at race-success pace on mixed road/off-road courses that should simulate race conditions very closely. Many of the vehicles have code in place that allows top speeds over forty miles per hour when long, straight, smooth sections of course are detected.

I know that the CMU teams pre-plan their runs in the two hour period between receipt of the course waypoint file and the beginning of the race. They will not load a plan designed to execute in more than ten hours and, given the quality of the competition this year, I betcha they'll be aiming at eight.

A hot issue this year that I haven't seen discussed on public forums is intent-to-pass. My understanding is that DARPA will force a vehicle into 'pause' mode if it is being overtaken by a faster competitor. I'm willing to bet there will be some post-race howling around that dynamic.

fqUirst (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13731556)

ARE YOu A NIGGER

In other news... (3, Funny)

toocoolforschool (848274) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731568)

The Florida State entry did not complete the course. It was last seen heading towards Tijuana, Mexico, picking up hotties along the way.

Sandstooorrrrm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13731876)

Its part of a new program we call "Deeeeep Huuurrrrtinnngggg"...

Hmmm... (2, Funny)

thewrathoffluffy (920910) | more than 8 years ago | (#13731993)

DARPA Grand Challenge Finalists Announced
EU, UN to Wrestle Internet Control From US
Google Declares War on Microsoft

...is it just me, or are /. headlines sounding more and more like a wrestling Pay-Per-View?

Pole Position (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13732060)

Did anyone else read the pole position going to "High Glander"?

tres apropo, oui?

Racers are too slow? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13732086)

If the fastest pace is about 10 minutes for roughly 2 miles that is only 12 miles/hour. The racers will need to complete 150+ miles in 10 hours, equivalent to at least 15 miles/hour.

It seems like there will *not* be a winner this year.

- Alex

Woohoo (3, Funny)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13732687)

Go Buckeyes. Making the finalists. Glad to see the engineers at my alma mater doing well...
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