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Wired on the Darpa Challenge
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Here's a recent Wired article on the DARPA Challenge.

The more I learn and read about this thing, the more I realize it's completely ludicrous and undoable.

Again, here's the deal:

Scheduled for March 13, 2004, entrants will pilot a 250-mile, four-wheel-drive course -- and they must do it in less than 10 hours in order to qualify. According to DARPA, it will include "surfaced and unsurfaced roads, trails and off-road areas" with man-made and natural obstacles including ditches, open water, rocks, underpasses, construction and other vehicles.

And again, this vehicle has to be completely autonomous. I'm generally a technological optimist, but averaging 25mph over uneven terrain, under and around obstacles, with 2 hours of advanced knowledge of the just sounds nuts. They've also got stuff like this:

To make the lot of those dependent on GPS trailblazing even more difficult, vehicles will have to remain within a corridor, portions of which will be too narrow for radio-guided positioning. These "lateral boundary offsets" will be marked with "concrete barriers, plastic snow fencing or other similar material."

Why not just set up snipers with RPGs to fire at the vehicles along the route, too? Good grief.

I'm going to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group meeting tomorrow, and I fully expect most of the people there to roll their eyes if I mention the DARPA challenge. We'll see, though.

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