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The DARPA Urban Challenge
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In case you weren't following this, Carnegie Mellon's autonomous vehicle just won DARPA's Urban Challenge.

The first challenge was to design an autonomous (no driver, controlled by a computer) vehicle that could drive across open terrain (on the order of tens of miles) from one point to another). The second challenge involved designing an autonomous vehicle that could navigate safely in an "urban" environment, getting from Point A to Point B while dealing with pedestrians and other traffic.

Here at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, we had an entry in the first challenge, but a mechanical failure kept CajunBot from finish the race. This time, we didn't make the cut for the finals, apparently due to safety reasons.

Ah well. It's difficult to assess just how impressive the advances in the technology are (or whether they're ad hoc hacks that won't map onto usable technology). I guess if you're sitting in your car ten years from now and a computer is doing the driving instead of you, you'll have a good idea.

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