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DARPA Urban Challenge

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The largest race in robotics history, with up to US$11,000,000 in cash prizes, is just 49 weeks away.

Participation is open to all ( You have missed the registration deadline but can participate by joining my team ).

This is a rally style race through 60 miles of heavy urban traffic.  Vehicle with the shortest time, without being disqualified wins the prize.  These are full size vehicles in traffic with other full size vehicles.   

The rules are about an inch thick and basically specify that the robot vehicle has to be able to pass a California State Drivers License Exam to qualify to be allowed on the course.

This is my fifth year working with this race.  My team is made up entirely of volunteers and is supported by donations. 

There is a great deal that you can learn about robotics by being on my team as we push the frontier of Robotics knowledge forward. 

If you want to be on my team, I will try to find a place for you whatever your skill level is.  It takes many hands and many minds to move a project like this ahead.  Some tasks are simple, others more complex, there is something for everyone who wants to help. 

Volunteers are needed from now through race day Nov. 3, 2007, a commitment of two hours a week or more is required to qualify for shares of the prize money.  While volunteers may quit at any time, they will not be allowed to work for a competing team.

 Does it sound like fun?  Are you up to the challenge?  Contact me as soon as possible.

I'm kinda curious what kind of programing you guys are doing right now?

Most of my experience comes from embedded systems, but I would also
like the opportunity to learn more about what it takes to make a
fully autonomous AI(I've taken our schools intro to AI). Right now
I'm undertaking my own project to make moblie robot based on
a R/C car. I have experience with Real Time Operating Systems
and general Linux programing.


--- Quote ---The largest race in robotics history, with up to US$11,000,000 in cash prizes, is just 49 weeks away.

--- End quote ---
Paul, has DARPA officially re-instated the prize money? I hadn't noticed any announcement on the Urban Challenge site yet.

I can't say much about the programming in a public forum but your background and your current project are directly related to what we are doing in full scale.  Do you want to play on our team?

DARPA's boss said there will be a cash prize of up to several million dollars.  Originally it was 11 million, then it went away, now it is back but the exact amount has yet to be determined.

Distance is not a problem, we have had 60 people on three continents, spread over 15 time zones working long distance on this project.  Also a pit crew team here in Traverse City, MI who do the final assembly and travel with the vehicle.  Other team members are welcome to attend exhibitions and races we participate in - if they can afford to.

As you can see on my home page, there is a link to the free hour long documentary if you have a high speed connection.  Also if you go to and search for DARPA you will bring up some of the other teams videos.  Some of the other teams home pages linked from the DARPA button on my home page have videos of their vehicles in action.  Nothing is quite as good as seeing what the competition is doing.


To answer your first question, I can't tell if you are a robot or not.  But if you are I hope that you are operating at a fairly hight level and are loaded with information.  My conversations with ALICE interfaces to large data banks have been very interesting.  The team could use one of those to let the public and reporters ask the vehicle itself, AV WENDY DARLING about the race (DARPA data), about the team (AI MAGIC data) and about the vehicle itself (AV WENDY DARLING data).

> How do you direct/task your programmers?  That's my skill set.  I'd like to get an idea of how I'd get up to speed and contribute.  I'm sure that you've already got a lot of development "under the hood."

11 new programmers have joined the team and I have lumped them together as a Software Sub Group but they are not yet producing.  Although they say they have read the rules for the race, which they need to design to, they are talking about inventing all kinds of things that are not required by the race and are fretting over problems that are also not part of the race.

To end this I have asked each of them to pick one of the required behaviors from the inch thick rules / specifications and give me a rough block diagram / flow chart of what inputs the behavior requires, what outputs the behavior requires, and roughly what steps there should be in the f(x) program for that behavior.

So far they are still in shock.  Broken down like this the task is very doable but requires actual work.  We shall see who among them is capable of putting on the harness and pulling toward the goal. 

Perhaps with your background you could suggest how to do it better or would like to be part of the team and make it happen? 

If anyone out there would like to audition for the team, you can do so by picking a piece of the driverless vehicle problem and showing me how you would solve it.  An outline, schematic, sketch, or blueprint would be fine.


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