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Sunday, November 4, 2007

DARPA Urban Challenge : Robots drop fast in driverless car race

Oshkosh Truck's TerraMax truck is eliminated from the race after nearly running into an old shopping center.

(Credit: Stefanie Olsen/CNET Networks)

After two hours in the race, three teams have fallen out of the DARPA Urban Challenge, leaving eight driverless cars to finish the urban course.

So far, Team Oshkosh, Team Annieway, and Intelligent Vehicle Systems have been eliminated from the challenge for various reasons.

Team Oshkosh, a more than 24,000 pound Oshkost truck, nearly ran into an old shopping center here at the former George Air Force Base after it ran over a parking lot curb. The team of Intelligent Vehicle Systems, a collaboration with Honeywell, Ford, and Delphi, had difficultly negotiating what to do at a stop sign.

Without those three teams, Stanford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon are among the eight teams remaining in the race.

A little after 10 a.m. PDT, Virginia Tech's VictorTango team completed its first mission in the challenge, after which it moved back to the starting shoot. Stanford University's robot Junior had already completed its first route, too.

After finishing a mission, the robot receives another mission definition file, or MDF, a USB connector with waypoints on the course to guide the robot's basic navigation. Teams must complete three missions total in six hours.

As Virginia Tech hit a milestone, the team of the University of Central Florida hit something else. The robot, Knight Rider, ran into an abandoned house on the course. It remains to be seen whether Knight Rider will be cut from the contestants.

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