AUS team enters DARPA challenge

A group of Australian artificial intelligence experts will chase cyber glory and a $US2 million ($2.4 million) prize at a contest for robot cars in the US.

Previously, we have reported about the new challenge that DARPA have thrown into the mix for this year’s challenge. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge is the title for this year’s event, in which automated cars have to complete a 60-mile course of urban traffic in under six hours.

During the 97km city-like course, the vehicles must obey traffic signs, road markings and the rules of the road. The cars must drive themselves through the course and no human intervention, either direct or via remote control, is allowed.

The aim of the exercise is to develop cars and trucks that safely drive themselves in real-world traffic. The savings for long-haul trucking operators alone are potentially huge.

With a large prize, the competition is fierce and the Aussie team must motor through a bunch of obstacles to even make it to the start at an abandoned military base in California, where the challenge begins on November 23.

The Australian Centre for Field Robotics at Sydney University got the UGC robot car challenge under way and cleared the first hurdle, which under DARPA rules was having a US citizen as the team leader, by enlisting the University of California at Berkeley as a partner. The Sydney-Berkeley Driving Team also has NICTA and the University of Technology, Sydney, on board.

Based on a RAV4 donated by Toyota, the challenge car has been mainly developed in Australia, with the Berkeley group contributing logistical and material support in the US and some software development.

Instead of a human, the RAV4 is driven by a group of four PCs running Linux and Intel Core 2 Duo processors. The car’s brain uses a combination of 3D cameras, GPS, an inertial navigation system and laser range finders to get its bearings and sense obstacles and traffic control systems along the route.

The Sydney-Berkeley team is just seven months old and faces more seasoned teams in the US.

Source: Australian IT

Related Links: DARPA: Grand Challenge