All robots break down in $1mill challenge

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by JesseJames, Mar 13, 2004.

  1. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2003
    How'd I get here? How can I leave?
    All I can say is awwwwwww. :(

    Robot Race Ends As All Entries Break Down
    The first of 15 driverless robots begins trundling across the Mojave Desert on Saturday, March 13, 2004, in an unprecedented race for $1 million in government-funded prize money. First out of the gate is Carnegie Mellon University's "Sandstorm," a converted Humvee, which took off at a fast clip only to break down about 45 minutes into the race. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    March 13, 2004 02:35 PM EST

    BARSTOW, Calif. - A $1 million race across the Mojave Desert by driverless robots ended Saturday after all 15 entries either broke down or withdrew, a race official said.

    Two of the entries covered about seven miles of the roughly 150-mile course while eight failed to make it to the one-mile mark. Others crashed seconds after starting.

    The race ended just before 11 a.m. after the final four competitors were disabled, said Col. Jose Negron, race program manager. Competitors suffered a variety of problems that included stuck brakes, broken axles, rollovers and malfunctioning satellite navigation equipment.

    One six-wheeled robot built by a Louisiana team was disqualified after it became entangled in barbed wire.

    "It's a tough challenge - it's a grand challenge - you can always bet that it's not doable. But if you don't push the limits, you can't learn," said Ensco Inc. engineer Venkatesh Vasudevan, shortly after his company's entry rolled onto its side several hundred yards from the starting gate.

    The Pentagon's research and development agency planned to award $1 million to the first team whose microcircuit-and-sensor-studded vehicle could cover the roughly 150-mile course in less than 10 hours.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was sponsoring the Grand Challenge to foster development of autonomous vehicles that could be used in combat. Defense officials foresee using the driverless, remote control-free robots to ferry supplies in war zones.
  2. coopdog macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2002
    The Great Midwest
    Good idea by the goverment. Since it takes the goverment 1 million bucks just figure out what kind seats to use in a remote controlled car :)p) why not have people do it for free and learn from them. Come on! For one million dollars I would have spent a year working on the car. Shouldn't they have figured out their GPS and everything before? On MythBusters, on the Discovery channel, the hosts built a remote controlled police car that preformed much better than all of these, with no prize money.
  3. Vector macrumors 6502a


    Feb 13, 2002
    I thought the same thing about the mythbusters, but there cars were remote controlled and these ones were not. The robots would have have to have some sort of preprogrammed route through the course, likely based on gps. It doesn't seem like it would be that difficult to do unless the course was very complex, which it must have been for the robots to break axles.
  4. Gizmotoy macrumors 65816


    Nov 6, 2003
    No, this challenge was more complicated. The robots were given general directions via GPS, but they had to self-navigate the points in-between. This is a large difference because the bots had to be able to accurately identify and avoid obstacles such as ravines, boulders, rocks, and cacti. The teams were not told where the challenge was going to be performed, and I believe only found out an hour before it was set to begin. During this time they would input the GPS waypoint data into their bots.

    It was a pretty daunting challenge, but its still disappointing that they all did so poorly.
  5. briankonar macrumors regular

    Mar 10, 2004
    they didn't know what the track would look like until a few hours prior to start, which wouldn't really allow you to enter a pre-programmed path. i agree it's pretty disappointing none of them even crossed half of the designated distance. does anyone else think a $1 million dollar grant is obscenely small considering how much money we're pouring into this retarded missile defense system?
  6. Opteron macrumors 6502

    Feb 10, 2004
    South Australia
    Good idea, but I agree with your comment on the Missile defence. The most extravegant defence against the most unlikley of enemy's.
  7. MrMacMan macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2001
    1 Block away from NYC.
    Come on we all need Star Wars!

    Coming to an 'Earth' near you.

    Anyway this was the saddest preformance I have ever seen.

    you need a car based robot which is low to the ground, has a wide car base...

    Not a car with come GPS attachement.

    You need to build this from scrap.

    Not the POS's they had out there that fell over in 5 minutes that had trouble in the "Tough Terrain"

    Give me a BREAK!
  8. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've been following the reports on "The Grand Challenge" and seeing photos of some of the vehicles. At first it seemed like battlebots without the remote controls, but it really is a grand challenge to design and produce a vehicle that can think for itself.

    I was surprised none of the contestants did very well. I expect them to hold the same contest next year and that we'll see much better results. And someday, when we have working autonomous military land vehicles, and then versions for nonmilitary purposes, the movies of this year's failures will be like those hilarious old movies of man's early attempts to build an aircraft.
  9. bennetsaysargh macrumors 68020


    Jan 20, 2003
    New York
    I'm kinda disappointed because none of them made it, but I'm wondering what's happening to that cool prize. do taxes get taken out?:p
  10. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2003
    Sounds like the $1 million prize should be doubled.
  11. MrMacMan macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2001
    1 Block away from NYC.
    Yeah really.

    What is so hard about this challange.

    Making a stable robot... thats not that hard... geez.
  12. ejb190 macrumors 65816


    If the designers were not informed of the course ahead of time, I can see that it might be difficult to program the recognition and aviodance systems. It could take a long time to plan for every possible situation and object that needs to be avoided - jungle, desert, urban, moving traffic, bomb craters, optical illusions, etc.

    Now that they know the government means business, I bet the designers will really up their efforts.
  13. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2003
    If you think its so easy, why didn't you enter and win the $1 million prize? :eek:
  14. Dippo macrumors 65816


    Sep 27, 2003
    Charlotte, NC

    Well when they hold this again in 2006, I might seriously enter.

    Of course if Apple would sponser me and hook me up with some free XServers to run the car, that would be great too!

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