The Urban Challenge is not a rap contest but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Third Grand Challenge. Following on the heels of last fall's Grand Challenge, where robot vehicles autonomously navigated a desert race course, the 2007 event will require driverless vehicles to simulate military supply missions in a mock urban area over a 60-mile course within six hours.
During the race, the robots must obey traffic regulations, merge into traffic, and traverse roadways and all types of intersections, while, of course, avoiding obstacles. The location of the event has yet to be determined.
Unlike the previous contest, teams can qualify there vehicles in two ways. First involves submitting a proposal for upwards of $1 million in development funds from DARPA, which will give the government limited rights to the technologies developed. The second way is similar to previous challenges, where teams apply and must go through a series of qualification hurdles, with monetary awards for those successful at each stage.
The agency will award prizes for the top three entrants of $2 million for the winner and $500k and $250k for second and third place, respectively. The previous challenge was a winner-take-all affair.
The Grand Challenge website has more information on qualifying, obtaining grants, and details on a participants' conference, May 20, 2006, in Reston, VA.