Citing a defense spending bill signed by President Bush this month, DARPA will not award any prize money at this year’s Grand Challenge.
DARPA’s interpretation of the new law prohibits the agency from conferring the anticipated $2.7 million award. Instead, the top three teams will each receive a trophy purchased out-of-pocket by DARPA director Tony Tether. This development has raised concerns that some teams will be forced to drop out of the competition and will reduce media coverage of the event.
After last year’s race where Stanford triumphed by successfully navigating a 132-mile desert course, the third Grand Challenge to be held in November 2007 will test the unmanned vehicles’ ability to traverse congested city traffic, avoiding other cars and complying with the rules of the road. Dubbed “The DARPA Urban Challenge,” this race will simulate a military supply mission in an urban environment, pushing the vehicles’ autonomous control systems to their limit. As with the two previous Grand Challenge events, the overall goal is meeting the congressional mandate to make one-third of all military ground vehicles unmanned by 2015.
via AAAI.org News