10.08.2005

Finals competition

It's Saturday, and the DARPA Grand Challenge championship is underway in the desert outside Las Vegas, Nevada. The vehicles left the starting gate this morning about 6:40am, in a staggered fashion so as not to create traffic jams, etc. This year's competition is much more successful by any measure than last year, when no team's vehicle managed to go more than a mile or so.

As I write this, three teams are nearing the finish, with the Carnegie Mellon and Standford vehicles battling it out to the end. The CM's Red Team has been the consensus favorite, with the Stanford the sentimental pick. Stanford's entry was added to the qualifying event at the last minute, but has emerged as a powerful competitor.

Every indication is that the hardest part of the course is to come. Called Beer Bottle Pass, it is the most mountainous terrain facing the vehicles, including a thousand-foot drop next to the edge of the canyon. Very tricky stuff. This will be where the competition is won or lost. I'll post with the final results when they are available, and I have Internet access.

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