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Fifteen Teams Selected for DARPA Grand Challenge 199

doughnuthole writes "The official posting has been made of the 15 teams that qualified for the Grand Challenge, seven of which completed the entire QID course. The top three teams, and thus those who get to start first, were the Red Team, SciAutonics II, and Team Caltech. The race starts at 6:30 am Saturday, with teams leaving every 5 minutes. A live webcast will be available at grandchallenge.org." Reader uss_valiant writes "Tomshardware runs an article about DARPA's Grand Challenge. It features new pictures, the DARPA video of the qualification and covers some technical challenges such as the obstacle detection."
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Fifteen Teams Selected for DARPA Grand Challenge

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  • by Doodhwala ( 13342 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:25AM (#8550994) Homepage

    For all those of us who don't have access to the DARPA channel, we can stream the telecast live from here [cmu.edu].

    These are the same people who appeared in this slashdot story [slashdot.org] and seems to be different from the "live webcast" mentioned in the story which only appears to have a tracking feature.
    • by uss_valiant ( 760602 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:42AM (#8551028) Homepage
      And what about the official 3d tracking [grandchallenge.org] (macromedia 3d shockwave app, looks great)?
      It uses about 150 MB RAM and 100% CPU on my celeron 1.4 GHZ...
      According to this 3d map (updated every 30 seconds) the Caltech Bot is running since a 30 minutes or so. But I couldn't observe any movement...
      As a side note: The videos on tomshardware [grandchallenge.org] are not exactly the same as those from the official website [grandchallenge.org] (very long ones, only the last 2 show vehicles that master the qualification without longer pauses).
      The videos from tomshardware are much shorter, a lot less boring ;) and show the autonomous vehicles going havoc :)

      This is the list of all qualified teams (from the new .pdf):

      1. (22) Red Team - Pittsburgh, PA
      2. (21) SciAutonics II - Thousand Oaks, CA
      3. (05) Team Caltech - Pasadena, CA
      4. (07) Digital Auto Drive (DAD) - Morgan Hill, CA
      5. (25) Virginia Tech - Blacksburg, VA
      6. (23) Axion Racing - Westlake Village, CA
      7. (02) Team CajunBot - Lafayette, LA
      8. (13) Team ENSCO - Falls Church, VA
      9. (04) Team CIMAR - Gainesville, FL and Logan, UT
      10. (10) Palos Verdes High School RoadWarriors - Palos Verdes Estates, CA
      11. (17) SciAutonics I - Thousand Oaks, CA
      12. (20) Team TerraMax - Oshkosh, WI
      13. (15) Team TerraHawk - Gardena, CA
      14. (09) The Golem Group - Santa Monica, CA
      15. (16) The Blue Team - Berkeley, CA
      • And what about the official 3d tracking (macromedia 3d shockwave app, looks great)?

        How do you manage to view it? I tried, but it seems to require some plugin that does not exist. Or, well, it exists but only for Microsoft's and Apple's OSes. Which seems pretty silly if the target audience is people with an interest in technology. :-O (OK, so I know there are geeks on OS X, but they're a small minority as far as I can tell.)

      • my computer is also eating it hardcore. its using up 88MB of ram on a 1.3 GHz t-bird.

        Not sure about that 10MB download though. It loaded up way to quick (on cable) to be 10 megs, even with the shockwave install.

        P.S. how come there was no freakin' advance notice of this on /.??? not even a hint or a whisper all week? Did I not get the memo?
      • by MyFourthAccount ( 719363 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:18AM (#8551202)
        According to this 3d map (updated every 30 seconds) the Caltech Bot is running since a 30 minutes or so

        Hmm, I don't know how you got that information, but their status page indicates that no-one has started, as of yet (5:10am in Barstow). The race is supposed to start at 6:30am, so that would make sense.

        Maybe they had some incorrect data initially. Anyways, this slightly 'lighter' page [grandchallenge.org] shows the status.

        btw, P4-2GHz also at 100% / 125MB RAM
        • And what about the official 3d tracking (macromedia 3d shockwave app, looks great)?
          How do you manage to view it? I tried, but it seems to require some plugin that does not exist. Or, well, it exists but only for Microsoft's and Apple's OSes. Which seems pretty silly if the target audience is people with an interest in technology. :-O (OK, so I know there are geeks on OS X, but they're a small minority as far as I can tell.)

          don't know of any official shockwave plug-in for linux, sorry. but there are wa

      • Anyone know how to let ShockWave run on Linux?
    • You know, for a school that has an insane amount of Linux emphasis, I'm terribly disappointed that CMU chose to use *QuickTime* for the streaming format. Yeah, let me just grab my copy of Codeweaver's product, why don't I? Hell, CMU's cluster machines don't have Crossover. There are a zillion ways to stream data to mplayer, and sure enough, they choose the single way that can't be used on Linux short of buying something.
      • Word. What's wrong with Video Lan Server [videolan.org] or something? Must be NDH syndrome.
      • MPlayer plays normal QuickTime no sweat, but what's this application/x-esm MIME type? And what Debian package do I have to install to view it?

        I imagine even Windows and Mac users aren't too happy at having to install yet-another-codec when plenty of other streaming video works just fine. Or is ESM some kind of fancy research project and CMU is just forcing all of us to be beta testers?

        • ESM (End System Multicast) [cmu.edu] is a peer-to-peer system to deliver video of any kind (such as QuickTime) to lots of clients. The idea is to allow people to watch video while acting as both client and server, thus reducing the originator's bandwidth needs.

          A friend of mine works on ESM. It was developed at CMU and has been used for many recent lectures on campus.
    • Apologies to the CMU broadcast folks, but this has to be about the most boring broadcast that could have been done for this event. Instead of updates on the progress of the teams, they are simply training a camera on the start area, and not saying anything most of the time.

      Meanwhile the status board shows the Red Team and SciAutonics II neck on neck at 7 miles along the course each. Seems Team Caltech isn't doing too well , since they're still stuck on 1 mile from the start. Would love to know the story be
    • That's great and all, but using this streaming soft with OSX is painfully difficult. I just wrote this to the authors:

      oh boy, using your app is incredibly difficult in OSX. Where do I begin...

      Installation: A clickable app woud be prefered, because people really don't like the terminal. If you don't wanna go the whole way, a ".command" file would be clickable by the masses and still be able to install things.

      During installation: Your installation obviously depends on having the current directory set to

      • Furthermore, even once I jumped through all those hoops, the vide still refused to stream, with quicktime pretending to be playing (said "Ready", and play button was in play mode), but displaying nothing but a QT logo.
      • oh boy, using your app is incredibly difficult in OSX. Where do I begin...

        I agree 100%. I just went through all this, and it still didn't work. The QT window comes up, said Connecting for a few seconds, then says Ready, with an animating "Cylon/Knight Rider" bump moving back and forth. If I click the pause button it says "Live Broadcast - Paused" and then when I click Play it goes back to Ready.

        Is anyone successfully watching this broadcast?
  • Departure. (Score:5, Informative)

    by cynicalmoose ( 720691 ) <giles.robertson@westminster.org.uk> on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:28AM (#8550997) Homepage
    If a team leaves every 5 minutes, (and assuming the first few hundred yards is relatively easy going - you find that on most courses of any nature), then we are going to have an awful lot of bunching at the first point the vehicles start dropping below 25mph. Interestingly, the rules [darpa.mil] state that the team in front (i.e. being passed) has right of way, unless E-stopped.
    • Re:Departure. (Score:2, Interesting)

      This suggests a neat strategy, "follow the pack". Just make a vehicle that follows either a) the leader or b) the largest group of vehicles, and let _them_ worry about the navigation issues.

      Of course, this strategy assumes someone else will finish. Hmm... also, add a "kick in turboboost for the last 400 yards" feature to get a win. Boy that will tick off the others!

      And, of course, fake AI etc to pass DARPA's initial checks so you get in the race after all. If someone actually did this and won, I won
      • Actually, I think they would say "Bravo!", and award you at least an honorable mention, and a contract.

        If part of the purpose of this race is to help develop an autonomous mobile supply carrier truck, then the strategy you talk about would actually be useful. Think of it as an "electronically coupled off-rail train", and the implications and applications become obvious.

        Such technology would be useful for so many purposes - coupled with an actual autonomous navigation system that work, one or the other could

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:29AM (#8551000) Homepage Journal
    6:30? That means nothing in nowadays world!
  • by KingOfBLASH ( 620432 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:31AM (#8551005) Journal
    CNN is running a story [cnn.com] about the DARPA race/challenge, in case anyone is curious.
  • waste of time? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Un0r1g1nal ( 711750 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:32AM (#8551008)
    And the odds on any of these machines even finishing the challange? Pretty slim, Red Team looks to have the best chances, pretty nice looking machine they've got going as well. All in the name of science and progression I guess .. but if the army vehicles auto targeting equipment couldn't distinguish the difference between a helicoptor and an incomming vehichle .. what are the odds on the software they put on the 'finished' development being any better? also pretty slim. May as well just spend the money on deveoloping the something worthwhile.
    • Re:waste of time? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Slowtreme ( 701746 )
      Actually I watched a show last night and they Highlighted the Red Team's Vehicle. After watching the show I was given no idication of any other competitors, but they didn't provide any reasons why the Red Team might not finish. Hell, after what I watched I'm wondering if any other teams are really even playing the same game... That is one high priced Hummer.
      • so much for red. according to the status board sandstorm went 7 miles (the furthest at the time of this posting) and became the second to be disabled (8:38am PST). so it sounds like it was the fastest one out there... until it died...

        it's so disappointing that only 4 teams remain and no one has even reached 10 miles yet...

        anyone know what time the race ACTUALLY started? it's pretty sad to think they've been at it for 3.5 hours and two teams (SciAutonics and TerraMax) are still on their 1st mile...


    • by rebelcool ( 247749 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @03:39PM (#8553130)
      I work with autonomous robots in a lab setting. It's difficult enough to get a 2 wheeled robot the size of an RC car that moves 75 cm/sec to navigate its environment reliably. Failure is something you simply have to learn to live with and learn from (many computer scientists have a tough time getting used to the idea that these systems cannot nor ever will work 100% of the time). Honestly, you learn way more from failure than success in this business.

      To get a full sized vehicle working at battlefield speeds with battlefield obstacles is a monumental challenge and almost certainly guaranteed to fail on the first try. Autonomous robotics is still a very young field, and the research published out there is generally some pretty rudimentary stuff done in a lab. Translating that stuff into a big complicated machine in a big complicated environment is a hell of a task and probably demonstrates some substantial holes in the current tech that weren't apparent from the confines of the lab.

      This DARPA challenge does two excellent things for the field: Gives it a real goal and gives it a real deadline. Alot of research doesn't have a deadline and so researchers spend much of their time spinning their wheels (heh) on some of what i would consider, less important issues. This challenge gives a genuine goal to accomplish in a certain amount of time.

      I definiately want to see the post-mortem on each team to see where they failed. In 2 more years, with this failure experience gained, perhaps a quarter of the teams will succeed or at least get further down the course.
  • Following... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SisyphusShrugged ( 728028 ) <.moc.draregi. .ta. .em.> on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:33AM (#8551009) Homepage
    Following the freakin DARPA it appeared at first as if it was a serious, tough, attempt to automate vehicles.

    However, time after time they reduce the requirements for qualifying, and basically continually reduce the prestige of the event, now they are allowing all 15 teams to race, even though only 7 finished the much easier race (The last race, only the Carnegie Mellon team actually completed!)
    • Re:Following... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:49AM (#8551044)
      The prior event was the QID it was designed to determine the saftey of the vehicles only. they didn't change the rules mid-event (as the earilier post would have you believe). But a prior to the start of the QID.
      A lot of folks are spending tons of time and energy attacking a hard problem. If DARPA thinks they deserve to watch their car leave the "official" start line, it's DARPA's decision to make. It's DARPA's event, they can run it however they want to, if they wanted to tape rubber ducks on the hoods prior to departure, they could ask eveyone to do so.

    • Bugger prestige, it's results which matter.

      If the teams can't finish they lose, if they finish, they win.

      • No, this race *is* all about prestige. I will be very suprised if any of them finish-- and *very* suprised if it's under 10 hours.

        It's not about results at all-- It's a high profile event in which teams get media coverage (from what I've seen so far CMU has totally won that race!) and prestige within the DARPA network of project managers.

  • Too late to enter my old Chevette? The title sounds like a new NBC reality show.
    • Re:Too Late (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eclectro ( 227083 )
      The title sounds like a new NBC reality show

      I'm surprised that a network isn't covering this live or at least making an hour show out of it. They get free content and every geek in the world will be watching.
  • Cop-out? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gracefool ( 649481 ) <slashdot@gracefo ... minus herbivore> on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:26AM (#8551121) Homepage Journal
    According to previous [slashdot.org] comments [slashdot.org] at Slashdot, a map of the course has been leaked, meaning that entrants can cheat by pre-programming a course.
  • by Big Yak ( 441903 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:44AM (#8551149) Homepage
    When I was a Freshman at CMU, I worked on a research programming project translating a bunch of the Navigation code for this self-driving HMMWV ("Hum vee"). It was originally written in C, and we converted it to Ada... though I bet it's been reverted back to a more versatile language.

    It used multiple cameras mounted at different heights to build a 3D view of it's surroundings, and could judge all kinds of obstacles... though at the time (7 years ago) had a lot of trouble with streams and shadows. I was amazed that it could recognize stoplights correctly, and even signaled when it was changing lanes on a street.

    Either way, it was a great project for a young would-be programmer to work on, very amazing stuff, and lots of cool toys to see in the Robotics Institute there.
  • by Renegade Lisp ( 315687 ) * on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:54AM (#8551166)
    I couldn't find any indication of what time zone they use on the official web site.

    Assuming that "6.30 am" means local time in Barstow, California, that would be 6.30 PST -0800, or 14.30 GMT.

  • by Dr_Java ( 689552 ) * on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:35AM (#8551230) Homepage
    Updated on the live status board [grandchallenge.org] A bit short of the original 250miles.
  • Are we there yet? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 1iar_parad0x ( 676662 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:39AM (#8551235)
    What we haven't landed on Mars yet?

    Look, folks it's engineering. It takes time. Frankly, competition is good. You have to understand, most of these schools/people participating don't make multi-million dollar robots for a living. CMU is probably the best (where's MIT??). Maybe CalTech or Berkeley is a close second. We didn't win the space race overnight. Engineering takes time. Eventually, the competition will learn the best techniques and everybody profits. It's is an educational thing...

    DARPA checklist:
    -sentient AI
    -robust hardware design
    -massively parallel neural net
    -robust error handling
    -programmed fundamental laws of robotics
    -able to withstand a tank blast
    -able to withstand a bomb shell
    -able to withstand a nuclear/biological/chemical attack
    -able to withstand a REALLY BIG MAGNET!

    Seriously, I think even Sadam could beat our robots! Just buy the mother of all big magnets (or make one). Oh that's right, they need electricity! Sorry, carry on. Maybe they could get a donkey to run on treadmill and make a generator.... (Okay, not so seriously.)

    So, how robust can any robot be? All I need is a really big magnet and it's screwed.

    Yeah, how come the Terminator/Matrix/Inspector Gadget never had to worry about magnets?

    • Yeah, how come the Terminator/Matrix/Inspector Gadget never had to worry about magnets?

      Remember how they used EMP in the Matrix movies to disable the sentinels? Guess what the "M" in "EMP" stands for, Einstein. :)

  • by bshroyer ( 21524 ) <bret@bretshro[ ].org ['yer' in gap]> on Saturday March 13, 2004 @10:08AM (#8551285)
    Team Terramax is a collaboration [oshkoshtruck.co.uk]between Oshkosh Truck and Ohio State University based on the MTVR, [usmc.mil] a six-wheeled, 425 HP, seven-ton truck.

    I had the privilege of test-driving an MTVR on the obstacle course at their factory in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This truck, fully loaded, could take on hills steeper than feel comfortable taking on in an ATV. We forded streams, climbed over barricades, and did steep side grades, all without breaking a sweat. I've got no doubt that this vehicle is up to the Grand Challenge, if the guys at OSU have their technology in order...
    • how long was this obstacle course? i'm guessing less than a mile? >:)
      • Significantly less than a mile. This was a small (20 acres?) outlot adjacent to the factory where they test incremental changes or modifications. I'm guessing that the "official" proving grounds are considerably larger/longer/more rigorous. This was more like a rapid-fire collection of many types of the bad terrain that you could throw at a vehicle, in one compact location. Had nothing to do with the DARPA challenge.
  • THIS JUST STARTED (Score:3, Informative)

    by malaire ( 248775 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @10:49AM (#8551430)
    Just to inform everyone who talked about what timezone is meant here - bots are just now starting to go as I write this. Currently 3 bots out.

    Info [grandchallenge.org]

    • Total carnage.

      I've been watching the CMU webcast. This is apparently too difficult a challenge. Nearly all bots have started now, and several of them never went more than a mile. The sturdy humvee is even out of the race. Some vehicles apparently took their GPS waypoint corridor a little too wide and ended up in the fence or against the concrete blocks on the left side of the starting area.

      It was pretty funny, those vehicles driving with full determination towards the fence... people backing off and the v
  • I just get the Status Board and the tracking page, and in the tracking page (the flash animation), the Red Team bot is marked red, which would mean disabled! SciAutonics II is displayed as "paused". Do you see the same?
  • As of 07:46:48 PST, 4 of the vehicles that were running are disabled.

    Including the favorite, Red Team.

    TerraMax has not begun to move, yet.
  • Red Team and SciAutonics II are dead at mile 7. Virginia Tech and Axion Racing are dead at the starting line. Team DAD is in the lead at mile 6. Team Caltech has been hung up at mile 1 for half an hour now.
  • Zero miles travelled. Team DAD is in the lead.
  • SciAutonics II is listed as "disabled", but it has advanced from 7 to 10 miles and shows green on the tracking diagram. Are they in or out?
  • They were disabled before moving off mile zero. Anybody know what happened? I had real hopes for that high school group.

    No vehicle has advanced for an hour now. Caltech is supposedly "running", but they've been at mile 1 for an hour. Team DAD is at mile 6, but paused. Are they being held up behind the bottleneck at mile 7, or what?

  • That's eight disabled, and three "running". But the ones running haven't moved much in some time now.

    Next to start is the Ohio State monster truck. At the QID, it hit obstacles twice, so this should be entertaining.

  • They've been paused by DARPA at mile 6 for an hour, presumably because of the CMU roadblock at mile 7. What's holding things up? Any word from the webcast?
  • Real Driving (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PingPongBoy ( 303994 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @12:57PM (#8552050)
    Real driving involves seeing many things. Tablet PCs can't even read my handwriting if I write programming instructions.

    There's also backtracking in case you can't find your way through a maze or roadblock.

    Not to mention being able to ask for directions, finding fuel or requesting service.

    How much brute force speed in terms of TFLOPS would be required?
  • fog of war (Score:2, Funny)

    by wskish ( 84575 )
    I hope this poor "interactive 3d mapping" application isn't what DARPA has in mind for providing 'battlefield awareness' to our generals. Talk about taking the fog of war to an entirely new technology-driven level...
  • by wskish ( 84575 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @01:10PM (#8552115)
    Watching the live broadcast, the cyberrider just refuses to fight! The flagman waved the green go flag and instead of charging like a good infantryman it just threw itself down to the ground! Of course its from Berkeley so no that suprising I guess.
  • Everybody else is either disabled or can't get past mile 1, but team DAD has been paused at mile 6, stuck behind the disabled CMU and Caltech vehicles, for hours now. They're getting a raw deal.
    • They're the only ones who still have a chance, and DARPA has them paused, stuck behind the failed CMU and Caltech entries. Team DAD is basically one guy in Morgan Hill, CA, and if he's in the lead, it makes those big expensive projects that involve Government contractors look bad.
  • by wskish ( 84575 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @01:27PM (#8552197)
    DARPA has announced that in light of the difficulties encountered this year, next's year event will be reworked as the "reasonably-ordinary-challenge' and consist of an autonomous vehicle locating the nearest McDonalds, ordering burgers and fries, and returning before they get cold.
  • by wing03 ( 654457 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @01:37PM (#8552248)
    What they really need to win in a race like this is a black mid 80s Pontiac Trans Am.

    They also needed to widen that front sensor and put some HID LEDs in a chaser for effect.

    Then hire William Daniels to replace all the chime codes with his voice.
  • The Golem Group vehicle has reached mile 4. It looks like it's going about 3-4 MPH, and has passed SciAutonics I and the OSU monster truck.
  • Tracking for Linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ephboy ( 761440 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @02:00PM (#8552373)
    Perhaps a pain in the butt to deal with, but a tracking client for Linux is available [esitcom.org].
  • And they're not getting anywhere. It's almost over.
  • And they're not getting anywhere.
    • It's over. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Animats ( 122034 )
      The Golem Group vehicle was just disabled. That's the last one. It's over. SciAutonetics II and Red Team made it to 7 miles. Team DAD made it to mile 6. The Golem Group is listed with 5 miles, but the map never showed them much past the starting line. Nobody else got very far.
  • I don't have access to the DARPA feed, but according to the Status Board [grandchallenge.org] all entrants have either been marked as Disabled or Withdrawn. Unless the rules allow teams to repair disabled vehicles in the field (making them less than truly autonomous) it appears that the much-hyped Grand Challenge has been a total wash.
  • According to this [grandchallenge.org] all the teams are now disabled. What a poor showing. Too bad.
  • ... 30 years ago, in their "Upper-Class Twit of the Year" sketch.
  • That was so much fun...

    Let's do it again tomorrow!

    Actually, DARPA did hold out tomorrow as an alternate date in case the event couldn't be held today. And I'll bet some of the teams would be up for it!
  • from http://www.grandchallenge.org/statusboard/

    Looks like all vehiches have been disabled and the furthest any of them got was 7 miles. Red Team tied with SciAutonics at the 7 mile mark before going kaput.
  • it's over [sfgate.com]. how utterly disappointing.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva