Oct 3, 2005
Racing for LivesBy JR Nerad
Sometimes racing isn't just racing. And that is certainly the case with the DARPA Grand Challenge, a 150-mile race across the Mojave Desert designed to test vehicles that could eventually be used to save lives in time of war. Recently, traditional motor racing and this important research and development effort came together when The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home to the greatest spectacle in racing, announced its support for the Indy Robot Racing Team.
The team, presented by Indiana University, has developed an autonomous ground vehicle capable of maneuvering without human control. Called Indiana's Robotic Vehicle (IRV), it will compete in the 2005 DARPA Challenge. The team, headquartered in Carmel, Indiana, is comprised of engineers, software developers and marketing professionals from across the state. The team's mission is to build the world's first fully autonomous vehicle and to create a new high-tech enterprise in Indiana.
IRV, the offspring of these engineers and technicians, is based on a 2005 Jeep Rubicon. The vehicle is designed to run autonomously by using a combination of LIDAR and RADAR sensors, structural light detectors, mounted road-following cameras and a drive-by-wire system.
"Since the early 20th century, Indiana has served as the proving grounds for innovation in automotive technology," said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. "We are pleased to announce our support of the Indy Robot Racing Team and wish them luck as they bring home the checkered flag on race day."
The DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 is a field test of autonomous ground vehicles for the purpose of advancing autonomous vehicle technology. The vehicles must travel approximately 150 miles over rugged desert roads using only onboard sensors and navigation equipment to find and follow the route and avoid obstacles. DARPA will award $2 million to the team whose autonomous vehicle successfully completes the 2005 route the fastest within a 10-hour time period. The finals of the Grand Challenge will be held on October 8.
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