DARPA's Robot Challenge Goes Urban

Last year, an automated vehicle named Stanley from Stanford University claimed a $2 million military-sponsored prize by completing a 132-mile desert course with no help from humans.

The next Grand Challenge for the likes of Stanley will be in an arguably more challenging urban setting.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) yesterday announced plans to hold the Urban Challenge competition on Nov. 3, 2007.

The goal is to spur advances in robotics that will aid military supply missions. Another $2 million prize awaits the team whose robot can successfully maneuver a mock 60-mile urban course in under six hours.

The robot will have to obey traffic laws, merge into traffic, and navigate traffic circles and busy intersections.

“Grand Challenge 2005 proved that autonomous ground vehicles can travel significant distances and reach their destination, just as you or I would drive from one city to the next,” said DARPA Director Tony Tether. “After the success of this event, we believe the robotics community is ready to tackle vehicle operation inside city limits.”

Information on how to qualify for competition is available here.