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PS3 Enters DARPA Urban Challenge

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the gogo-black-box-of-death dept.

PlayStation (Games) 39

billdar writes "Terrasoft Solutions posted an article on their development of a stereo vision object detection system built upon Sony's PS3 for Axion Racing's entry into the DARPA Urban Challenge. The PS3 running Yellow Dog Linux replaced one of the on-board Dell servers to process the realtime stereoscopic sensor data. The whole system was developed and integrated onto the vehicle in ten days. So far, Spirit has been making the competition's highlight reels."

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Could've been worse (2, Interesting)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21172359)

This Prius [tgdaily.com] had a more spectacular escape attempt. Personally, though, I'm rooting for Team Oshkosh [darpa.mil] , formerly Team Terramax. They completed the grand challenge course (one of only 4 to do so), but they took way too long to place so here's hoping they do better this year! Oh, and here's hoping they're quick on the kill switch if that monster of a truck glitches out...

Does it revert back to form... (3, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21172599)

...and jump out of the vehicle and beat up a hooker?

not done? (2, Funny)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 6 years ago | (#21172737)

Being amazed that a 450W computer ... can compute things?

It's not like this is a Z-80 with 8KB of ram.

Re:not done? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21173291)

Actually, I'm getting a huge kick out of watching Sony and their fan base continue to push the PS3 for scientific and engineering applications. Supposedly they're showing the world how great of a machine the PS3 really is. (It can even make Julienne Fries!) Instead, they're proving that the Cell processor is better suited to its original intent of supercomputing-on-a-chip rather than playing video games. Which kind of sucks if all you actually want to do is play games.

Note to Sony: You are your own worst enemy.

Re:not done? (1)

xero314 (722674) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174135)

Instead, they're proving that the Cell processor is better suited to its original intent of supercomputing-on-a-chip
Are you saying that super computers can't play games? Curious since games are nothing more than physics simulations, expert systems and visualization and all truly high-end physics simulations, expert systems (even AI) and visualizations are done on supercomputers. If you take the physics, AI and visualization out of the game then pretty much all games would run just fine on 20 year old consoles and the Cell processor would handle it on a single SPE. I just don't see how showing the processing power of the Cell some how detracts from it's ability to play top notch games.

Re:not done? (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174355)

Well, if you take physics, AI and visualization out of the game, you pretty much have the CPU code for todays video games. Yes, supercomputers can do wonderful things with those three factors, but no, you don't find anything anywhere close to the same order of magnitude for games. It just doesn't make economic sense. It's like driving to the next town over in a 747. It takes way too much training to do, costs far too much in resources, and the result is much less effective than the competing products.

Re:not done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174393)

Are you saying that super computers can't play games?

Certainly not. Super Star Trek still works fine on a supercomputer. The latest first person shooter? Not so much. Supercomputing applications tend to be divorced from real-time requirements. They're all about number crunching of complex data sets. As a result, the latencies built into the configuration actually makes it impossible to be highly responsive to user input while still fully utilizing the available computing resources.

Even though the cell reduces the latencies by packing multi-unit vector processing on a chip with a controller processor, it is still a tremendous challenge to keep the processing units fed during the course of a normal game. Especially given the small cache of each processing unit. Basically, it's an overkill of a CPU that isn't really designed with high-data rates, low-latencies, and responsiveness in mind. It was designed streaming vector computations in mind, something that it's very good at.

Re:not done? (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175177)

Well, this is a robotics competition, usually these require realtime systems so if it's getting used it can probably work well with realtime constraints.

Re:not done? (0, Troll)

G Fab (1142219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178881)

admittedly, I would be shocked if I ever find myself using my PS3 more than my 360 because the games are just better on the 360, but the PS3 is cool in and of itself, or at least gives off that impression to me and many others.

While this is silly, and folding at home doesn't prove much, I think these types of supercomputer style marketing efforts really do help sell these consoled. It's too little too late, but it's something.

Re:not done? (2)

G Fab (1142219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21185451)

Let's see. I mention how I like the 360's game selection. And I mention how the PS3 has a cool factor from these types of interesting applications. So who am I trolling? It's true, the PS3 looks pretty cool, and it's fun to explain all the stuff it can do (linux or folding or whatever little story like this has popped up). It's also true that the 360 has more games selection, and that advantage is likely to persist.

Apparently more than one of you disagree with me (even think I'm trolling), so perhaps someoen else can explain to me why this is such a controversial view. I thought I was being even handed (and correct).

Re:not done? (3, Insightful)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175019)

It's mentioned that the PS3 is replacing '6 Dell servers'

What are the specs on these servers? Are older Pentium 4 servers being replaced, or are they newer machines?

Then again, if a new Dell server (dual quadcore for example) could do the job all on it's own, thats' $3,000 compared to $600 for the PS3. Impressive showing, and a good use of the specialized hardware that the Cell brings to the table.

Re:not done? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 6 years ago | (#21181343)

So what, just one microwave oven can cook my supper in less time than 10 PS3s!

You may ask yourself, "wtf?" Well it's all about job. If your task is highly parellized vector processing, than chances are good that the PS3 is an awesome fit. Let's see how fast the PS3 can, say, compiler C source code compared a core 2 processor, etc...

Not saying the PS3 doesn't look like a cool platform, just it's kinda funny that each of these stories act as if it's newsworthy. Like saying "powered by linux" whenever Linux happens to be somewhere. The PS3 is not a hack job, slung together with re-wiring done at the last second, and patched IC's stacked ontop of each other. It's a designed, manufactured, and tightly controlled computing platform. The fact that it can do crunch numbers shouldn't be that amazing.

Re:not done? (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 6 years ago | (#21182739)

Impressive showing, and a good use of the specialized hardware that the Cell brings to the table.
Impressive showing, and a good use of the subsidized hardware that the Cell brings to the table.

Fixed it for ya.

SPEs? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21173027)

Can the SPEs be accessed through YDL? If not, this isn't terribly exciting.

Another Reason to Buy One! (-1, Flamebait)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21173425)

At least someone found something to do with the surplus PS3's cause lord knows they aren't being used for gaming. First a "supercomputer", now DARPA, next THE WORLD! *Cue Pinky and the Brain theme music

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (1)

rhartness (993048) | more than 6 years ago | (#21173803)

And in a some-what related tangent, I really think all of this news has to be bad for SONY. It seems that every other day there is some news article out there in regards to some awesome use of the PS3, except it doesn't involve games!

It's been my understanding that most console manufacturers lose money with each system that is sold and then, in turn, profit from game sales and licensing. If people are buying PS3s for everything but gaming it really has to be eating a hole in SONY's pockets.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (1)

G Fab (1142219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178993)

The PS3 does have some nice games now. Warhawk and Ratchet are two 2nd generation PS3 games that are good (not great, but good... like gears of war). There are several others. It's a lot better than the wii, in my opinion, as far as games go. And it's only going to get better for the PS3. There will be no domination for Sony, but it's not as though the PS3 is all bad news. Sony will pull out of this expensive period with a profit. 65nm cheap Ps3s are already out there. Blu-Ray diodes are plummeting in price. And there are already rumors of a new XBOX in the next couple of years. If that's true, PS3 will have the greater installed fanbase in the next 3 years (this sounds ridiculous to me too).

Yeah, Sony is losing serious money on the PS3 and the games ain't what they need to be. But the games situation is starting to get pretty damn good.

PS3 and the Current Gen (2, Insightful)

LKM (227954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21182127)

I own both a PS3 and a Wii. As of now, I would not recommend the PS3 to anyone. If you're a hardcore gamer, get a 360. Sure, it'll probably burn and explode, but as long as it still works, at least you've got some decent games. If you aren't a hardcore gamer, get a Wii. Tons of great games are available.

For the PS3, these are the games I'd recommend if you insist on getting one:
  • Warhawk. Great game, although a bit expensive for online-only
  • Motorstorm. Not too many tracks, but fun while it lasts. No split screen is a major letdown, though
  • Resistance. Awesome FPS


You might also want to look at the following games. They are neat, but have serious flaws:
  • R&C: Looking good, but if you've played an earlier R&C, you've already played this one
  • Heavenly Sword: Pretty, but way too short
  • Ninja Gaiden: Basically the same game as the Xbox version
  • skate: Fun, but has serious framerate issues, and online is gimped; if you can, get the 360 version instead
  • Calling all Cars: Fun little online game for those who like local multiplayer gaming
  • Stardust HD, Everyday Shooter: Two of the better dual analog shooters


So there are three really good games, and a bunch of games that are acceptable. On the other hand, the Wii has stuff like Zelda, Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime 3, Super Paper Mario, Wario Ware, Trauma Center, Mario Strikers, Rayman, Wii Sports, Elebits, Excite Truck, Super Monkey Ball, finally a good 3D Sonic... and that doesn't even include any of the VC games. As of now the Wii simply has the better game selection, and it looks like the gap is widening as franchises are moving to the Wii (Monster Hunter), while Sony has trouble keeping third parties on their console. [kotaku.com] The sales numbers paint the same picture: While the PS3 has a grand total of two million sellers (Motorstorm and Resistance), the Wii has at least nine.

Like I said: Even though I own a PS3, I would not recommend it to anyone. I think there's a good chance that it'll end up this generation's Gamecube: A few awesome first-party titles, but few third-party titles, and the third-party titles it gets are crappy ports from other consoles.

Re:PS3 and the Current Gen (1)

G Fab (1142219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21185585)

I fail to see how this is a response to my comment.

It's not really relevant that you don't like the PS3's games very much. The fact is that the PS3 is far from gameless, as I was explaining through a mere couple of examples. I certainly agree that the 360 has more and better games, but again, it's a simple fact that the PS3 has improved a lot in this area.

Certainly, you are omitting a hell of a lot of really fine games for the PS3 by stating definitively that there are only three great PS3 games. How many Wii games are as nice as Ratchet? 1? 0? And the bar is going to keep going higher as the PS3 continues selling more and more games, consoles, etc. I sincerely doubt that the PS3 will ever be a better buy than the 360, but it's already a better buy than a wii from a certain point of view.

The Wii games you mention are replete with games that really cannot compete with PS3 games like Ratchet. Perhaps you are being unfair. Not to mention, most of them aren't new and are similar in quality to PS2 games. I have all three systems, and I just do not think the wii has anything interesting. If you really are arguing that people should go for a system with tons of ok games, obviously they should get a PS2 or a PS2 compatible PS3. Which is why both the PS2 and PS3 are selling in such high numbers in Europe that they are both approaching Wii console sales. I think the Sony systems were both around 65k and the Wii around 70k for the latest period reported.

Again, you're fine to have your prefs of course, but all I'm saying is that the PS3 is not gameless by any means, and I think you're ruling out several awesome PS3 games. Another banal point, that isn't so relevant to you perhaps, is that many of the good 360 games also exist on the PS3.

Re:PS3 and the Current Gen (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21188199)

I fail to see how this is a response to my comment.

It wasn't really intended as a response to your comment. More like adding my own view to yours.

How many Wii games are as nice as Ratchet?

Having played the previous R&C games, the new one bored me so much that I did not even manage to finish the Demo. So I would say that the Wii has dozens of games "as nice as Ratchet."

[The PS3 is] already a better buy than a wii from a certain point of view.

Yes, from the point of view from somebody who mainly cares about how games look. I think those people are a small minority of all gamers.

The Wii games you mention are replete with games that really cannot compete with PS3 games like Ratchet. Perhaps you are being unfair.

No, perhaps it's you who is unfair. R&C is an uninspired shooter which has gorgeous graphics, but plays just like its previous versions. There's really no incentive for me to play the same game again, apart from the graphics. And frankly, I don't play games for their graphics.

I have all three systems, and I just do not think the wii has anything interesting.

Okay, now you've definitely jumped the shark. You love R&C, but you think the Wii has nothing interesting? Eledees is not an interesting game? Cooking Mama, not interesting? Zack & Wiki? Battalion Wars 2? Manhunt 2? Victorious Boxers? Dewy's Adventure? Even Wii Sports? Those are not interesting games, but R&C is?

Come on, seriously, who's not being fair here?

Another banal point, that isn't so relevant to you perhaps, is that many of the good 360 games also exist on the PS3.

In inferior versions. I own two multi-platform titles, skate and Ridge Racer. Ridge Racer looks a lot better on the 360, and the PS3 version of skate has serious framerate issues, as well as an inferior online mode.

As of now, there's simply no reason for getting a PS3. The 360 has a better selection of hardcore games; the Wii has a better selection of casual and innovative titles; and it's too loud as a Bluray player.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (3, Insightful)

nbowman (799612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174003)

yeah, because I never see anyone else on Warhawk. ever.


seriously will this "the PS3 isn't used for gaming" meme just die already? no, its not the dominant system, but I am not unhappy with mine, and neither are the other people I know that own one. The fanboyism, it burnss us.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175497)

Exactly man, between Warhawk and Resistance the games are always packed!! I can only imagine how many people will be on COD4 next week.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176897)

Only one?

(I kid! I kid!)

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (4, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174101)

PS3 now outselling Xbox by quite a margin in europe [computeran...ogames.com]

So shut the hell up already. The PS3 is doing just fine, despite what y'all naysayers are moaning about.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (2, Insightful)

jeks (68) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176053)

Am I the only one seeing a Slashdot double standard when it comes to Microsoft and the XBox?

Any article pointing out Microsoft's misdoings gets tons of attention yet it seems that the same crowd is very positive towards the XBox 360. Compare the number of posts on an average Slashdot XBox article (Halo 3, hello!) versus a PS3 article.

It would be nice to know whether you people think it is reasonable to own a 360 and still be opposing MS and its associated business methods.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (0, Offtopic)

brkello (642429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176429)

This is the first double standard you have noticed on here? Come on, you have a 2-digit id!

It isn't uncommon on here to dislike business practices and still like the product. For example, a typical Slashdotter likes their iPod but doesn't like the vendor lock-in on the iPhones. This site is pro-Linux and many people don't appreciate the monopolistic crap that MS often gets away with. But in the gaming market, they are actually the little guy trying to break in to a market controlled by two giants. People are still quick to criticize them for their horrible hardware failure rate...but on the other hand, applaud them for admitting it and changing their repair policy so that they fix their mistake.

So yeah, I don't think it is unreasonable to despise MS for what they do in the OS market but still have a 360. If you really get down to it, if you refused to buy from anyone who had questionable business methods, you wouldn't be able to own a console period.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (1)

svnt (697929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176505)

This is the first double standard you have noticed on here? Come on, you have a 2-digit id!

$3,050 and it only took him five days to blow his cover.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (1)

jeks (68) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177401)

I certainly remember what Slashdot was like ten years ago. Unfortunately, your post is dire evidence and a reminder of what it has become.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21179445)

You know, you don't sound like a troll. Why does your account have the default zero score? It kinda caught my eye when you denigrated "what slashdot has become". It's ok to acknowledge if you purchased or were given someone's old slashdot login. And the parent's comment was pretty damn funny, you have to admit.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (3, Insightful)

gamer4Life (803857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179003)

I would definitely not call Microsoft "the little guy" in ANY industry. They leverage their monopoly on Windows to facilitate entry and eventually to force developers to make specifically for their platform.

Right now Microsoft is using Windows to entice companies to develop for the XBox 360. They buy exclusives left and right with the Windows tax that we pay. At the same time, they are forcing people to pay a monthly fee to play online, something that was once taken for granted. They force people to buy non-standard components, and they've made it the norm to have multiple versions of the same type of console. Does this sound like Windows? Imagine if they were to become the dominant player in the industry?

Not to mention they've succeeded in their viral campaign... notice that the most fanatic fanboys are XBox 360 owners? It could be that their main demographic - 13-25 year-old males that play shooters, are more prone to fanboyism and trolling Internet blogs to incite flamewars. If you take a look at each console's Wikipedia history, you'll see that the PS3 has had far more requests for protection than the 360.

Having said that, Microsoft's entry into the console market has helped Sony move forward with price cuts and enhancements - just don't hope that Microsoft gains a foothold - once that happens, it's a slow war of attrition until Microsoft comes out on top.

very insightful (1)

G Fab (1142219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179271)

Particularly to note that this Xbox 360 has helped Sony innovate (and Sony was encouragement for Nintendo to innovate).

Microsoft spent a lot of money to beat Sony, and they will expect me and other gamers to give them that money back. Then they will use that money to build TVs or something.

But I think that eventually a company becomes too unfocused and large and becomes inneffective. Look at Office 2007. Vista is more of a flop than XP ever was. They need to focus on Windows and Office if they expect to keep their advantage. And of course, so much of Microsoft's software is competing with OK free stuff.

Can Sonybeat Microsoft? Of course not. Can Sony beat Microsoft in one area while Google beats Microsoft in another and Ubuntu and Apple beat Microsoft in another? Yep. That's why companies have to stay focused. Google looked at all the crazy crap they were doing and reduced the number of apps they were working on. For good reason.

So while Microsoft dominated the floppy disk era, things are starting to turn around (precisely why Microsoft has decided to diversify in such a broad way). I firmly believe that the world will be ok if Microsoft wins these console wars. Someone will come up with something cheap and fun.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195791)

In my defence I don't own a 360 or ever foresee owning one unless Sims 2 comes out for it and my wife wants it. I'm waiting to see which platform (besides the Wii which I will be getting when I get back from Iraq) has the better RPG line up and then I might buy one if it's compelling enough. It would really be nice to get a shiny new RPG for linux... but hell there probably is one I haven't found yet out here.

Re:Another Reason to Buy One! (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21182185)

Am I the only one seeing a Slashdot double standard when it comes to Microsoft and the XBox?

First of all, more than one person posts on /., so having a double-standard hardly applies.

Second, it's perfectly possible to think that Microsoft is evil, or bad, or behaves unethical, while still acknowleding that the games selection on the 360 is great, and the 360 has a lot of strong points.

Personally, I despise Microsoft. I own a PS3 and a Wii. The Wii is great, but as of now, it doesn't get a lot of hardcore games (skate, for example, is not available on the Wii). On the other hand, the PS3 ports of these games suck. The aforementioned skate is often barely playable due to the sucky framerate, and the online mode is gimped.

There are three things keeping me from buying an Xbox:

  1. It's Microsoft
  2. Online is not free
  3. Hardware quality is unacceptable

If they fix one or two of these, I might break down and get one; the PS3 currently simply sucks so much that it's hardly an alternative to the 360 at all. So yeah, I think it's possible to despise Microsoft and still pay for their crap, mainly if their competitor makes even bigger crap.

Yes (not a political consumer) (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21182933)

> It would be nice to know whether you people think it is reasonable to own a 360 and still be
> opposing MS and its associated business methods.

Yes, because I don't really believe in the political consumer. I believe a good citizen should use his wallet to buy the legal goods he find the best value, and his vote to get the politicians who will protect the market from trusts, and ensure the goods are produced ethically. The market works best that way.

And if you want to play politics with your wallet, it should be as part of an organized effort, with carefully selected high profile targets. Otherwise, it isn't going to have any effect.

I'd not buy an XBox 360, but only because my main requirement for a game console would be that it should be silent.

Ah yes... (1)

Chaymus (697182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21173471)

Makes the new DS3 rumble pack rather reduntant now doesn't it?

Problems under the hood (2, Interesting)

svnt (697929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176557)

How does he plan on syncing the frames? No mention is made of this, and all examples are taken from static environments. Disparity maps are all but useless if there is much change in position (e.g. on a moving vehicle) between frame acquisitions.

Re:Problems under the hood (2, Informative)

billdar (595311) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177915)

The examples in the center of the page are snapshots from the first field test when the truck was moving.

Basically, the PS3 grabs a handle and opens a data connection to each camera. Thats the slowest part of the system. The reads are done simultaneously in different threads. Pulling the next frames require both current reads to complete first. Grabbing the data from the cameras is limited by USB bandwidth and the capture speed of the cameras.

That ends up giving you a worst-case sync deviation of ~10ms. Which is not too bad considering the source is an off the shelf webcam, but it does limit the max speed the system is useful.

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