Tuesday, March 30, 2004

And the DARPA results are in.

I didn't mention this already, did I? ENSCO's DAVID didn't complete the race, in fact only a couple of vehicles made it beyond 7 miles of the 100 they were attempting. If you're interested, the NBC4 local news had a story on it. Read on.

ENSCO's autonomous vehicle
I.J. Hudson, Tech Reporter
Almost everyone has seen a futuristic movie in which folks jump in a car, punch a few buttons, the car follows a "smart" highway and takes them to their destination – no driver required.
DAVID, named after Steven Spielberg's A-I character, is an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) with a lot of brains, designed by a team at ENSCO, a Springfield, VA technology company. The goal is to make DAVID able to go from point A to point B and navigate around obstacles in between without the aid of a "smart" highway or driver. That's the definition of an autonomous vehicle.
DAVID tries to accomplish that with a lot of high tech gadgetry, including stereo cameras, GPS, and a system called Lidar (light detection and ranging). It looks a little like a coffee maker and uses a laser to scan a couple of hundred meters ahead for things in the way.
DAVID took part in a government challenge race in California in early March. The Pentagon wants vehicles that can transport supplies by themselves through dangerous areas - no drivers or remote controls. It's a tall order. The course was over 100 miles. Only a couple of vehicles made it past 7 miles.
The rest of the story is at the NBC4.com site.

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