The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected 36 development teams as semifinalists in its Urban Challenge competition to develop autonomous vehicles that can function in common traffic situations.
The agency announced the final "runoff" between robot-vehicle contestants will take place in Victorville, California on November 3, 2007. The site is the former George Air Force Base, which is now an Army urban military training facility that offers a network of urban roads that "simulate the type of terrain American forces operate in when deployed overseas."
"The robotic vehicles will conduct simulated military supply missions at the site. This adds many of the elements these vehicles would face in operational environments," says DARPA Director Tony Tether.
Of the semifinalists, 20 will be selected as finalists for the November event during qualifications taking place at the same location on October 26-31, 2007.
The vehicles must operate autonomously and obey California traffic laws while merging into traffic, navigating traffic circles, and avoiding moving obstacles. "The vehicles must perform as well as someone with a California driver's license," Tether concludes.
Find out much more in background articles about DARPA's Urban and Grand Challenge competitions and autonomous vehicles in general.