Qualification runs begin at Urban Challenge

  • Victorville (CA) – You can call it an elegant ballet of cars as the qualification runs for the DARPA Urban Challenge began today.  Robotic cars from 35 teams will now be driving themselves through three test areas trying to impress DARPA judges with their speed and obstacle avoidance skills.  Already several teams have completed their runs.

    During the runs, the bots must drive on a course filled with moving and parked cars.  As you can see from the Team Case video, the bot must avoid half a dozen moving cars driven by professional stuntmen.  The cars are reinforced with rollbars and the drivers are wearing crash helmets.

    Several human-driven cars try to confuse the robots (notice the crash helmets and rollbars)

    During the run, you can see Dexter try to make a left turn, but it veered straight after another car honked at the bot. Robots aren't supposed to feel fear, but it certainly looked like the bot was "scared" and the crowd got a kicked out of it.

    It was a long night for many teams as they fixed last minute bugs and some even went all out by ripping out defective sensors.  Team Case replaced a laser unit that had become clogged with dust, according to their team blog.  Apparently the fix worked and their “Dexter” bot completed the qualification run at Test Area A today.  You can watch the video of the run above.

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