Money isn't everything to mastering the Grand Challenge


With all the press focusing on Grand Challenge winner Stanford and the runner-up, Carnegie Mellon, it's easy to miss another finisher The Gray Team. Hailing from Metairie Louisiana, this small team with a small budget held their own against more heavily-funded teams. Their vehicle was originally called the GrayBot, but was changed to Kat-5 after Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana. The team finished the 132 mile course in fourth place only 16 minutes behind Carnegie Mellon's Red Team Too.

In contrast to Carnegie Mellon's stabilized gimbal or Stanford's five LIDARS, two Radar's and stereo vision sensors, Kat-5 had only three LIDAR units mounted on the top of the vehicle. The two outside units oscillate left to right at one oscillation every 1.6 seconds, while the other one (middle) swings up and down. Differential GPS helps navigating the vehicle and provides 10 centimeters of accuracy. Powell Kinney, a member of The Gray Team, told us the Ford Escape isn't a true off-road vehicle and the team installed a two inch lift kit, bumper guards and replaced the stock tires with run-flats filled with "goop".