The DARPA Grand
Challenge has generated a lot of interest and there are now over 100
teams preparing robots. Most of them are in for a shock when they find
out DARPA has decided that only 20 robots will be allowed to enter. An editorial
over at mobilerobotics.org has more details as well as transcript of a
letter DARPA sent to one of the Grand Challenge Teams about the issue.
This competition seems "thrown together" from the very beginning.
Personally, If I were involved, I would either organize a boycott, or a
class action suit.
I'm not involved with the DARPA grand challenge, but if I was I'd be
pretty pissed off by that. If I thought I was being treated in an
unfair or arbitrary manner I'd just take my technology to another
country and market it there instead. I'm sure they must be just as
interested in autonomous navigation for military vehicles in
My early gut feelings weren't good for this Darpa event, but we could
start holding our own mini-Darpa like outdoor robot contests.
Something that covers an area less than a football field in size would
Simply the judges would take three or four GPS readings as marker
checkpoints for the course to run, and the robots would start at the
default start point (the imaginary 5th reading). Then travel though to
each GPS location and return to the start. There can be hills, curbs,
starirs, sidewalks, maybe even water traps, to traverse to acomplish
the goals.This would accomplish everything that DARPA is looking for
without hundreds of miles to travel. Besides people could watch this
one much more easily. Plus we could afford to build one of these
robots without taking out a third mortgage or getting sponsors.