If you are trying to find the ideal present for the man in your life DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) may have just the thing to put under the Christmas Tree.

As many of you know DARPA is the organization that sponsored the “Ultimate Challenge”, where teams competed for a one million dollar prize to create a totally autonomous vehicle that could navigate around a 120 mile course.

They have upped the ante for their next challenge, the vehicle will have to navigate 60 miles in an urban setting, dealing not only with stationary obstacles but also other moving vehicles. This competition is not hot news, it was announced some time ago.

I decided to do a little research, just as background material about the competitors. Initially my plan was just to ‘bank it’ for future reference. What I found though was too good not to share.

One of the prime contenders and recipient of DARPA research funding is the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute. They have produced a series of absolutely amazing vehicles and technology. Their web site is well worth visiting, even better the site features some short videos. My favorites are:

Crusher, The UGCV, and Dragon Runner.

The technologies that are being employed in these programs are breathtaking. The idea of a war being fought by robots has long been a staple of the Science Fiction world, if these test bed systems are successful, fiction is going to turn into reality.
Simon Barrett


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