Teams picked for rush hour robot race

Culver City (CA) - The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has picked the first eleven teams for next year's Urban Challenge race. In the race, robotic cars from each team will have to complete an urban, obstacle filled 60-mile course in less than six hours. In return for giving up some technology rights, each team will receive up to $1 million in funding before the race.

DARPA is a military research agency and the technology from the race will eventually help make autonomous supply trucks. It's no surprise that delivering supplies is a dangerous job, especially in war-torn areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. The Urban Challenge course will try to simulate the environment by running vehicles through a city-like environment where traffic laws must be obeyed.

This is the third robotic race held by the DARPA agency with the first two being the Grand Challenge races. You may remember that the first Grand Challenge race was a bust with all the robotic vehicles only completing a few miles. However, five teams completed the second race with Stanford being the winner.

Many of the selected teams also entered vehicles in the first two races. Stanford will enter a tricked-out Passat, while the other teams will use more refined and smaller vehicles than in the desert-based Grand Challenge race.

The other teams are a mix of universities and heavy-duty aerospace and trucking companies. Here is the complete list: Autonomous Solutions, California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, The Golem Group, Honeywell Aerospace Advanced Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oshkosh Truck, Raytheon, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

The eleven teams picked so far are in Track A, while Track B teams will be picked in the coming months. Track A teams receive up to $1 million in DARPA funding for completing technical milestones leading up to the race. Track B don't receive any money, but get to tackle the same course.

The Urban Challenge race will happen on 3 November 2007 in a still to be named area in the western United States.

Related article:
Stanford wins Grand Challenge - Live Race Blog