Everyone can appreciate a good race, well, maybe almost anyone. Regardless, the speed, the rush and the breathtaking sight of vehicles moving gracefully and powerfully over courses has been a source of astonishment and amusement for sports fans all over the world. Beyond the cars, the tires, the engines, the gas and the entire buzz, almost all race enthusiasts will agree, it is not the car, but it is the driver that wins the race. Indeed, it is the human element of having a driver making decisions as to how to approach a tight curve or deep slope or a simple turn that makes each one different and fun to watch.
So what happens when you make a race of cars and remove the drivers? Enter the DARPA Grand Challenge. The initials stand for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is basically a government agency that focuses on the research, development and creation of new technology. The DARPA Grand Challenge however, is a race; a race for cars without drivers. In an effort to develop better artificial intelligence and also enhance the technology of self-driving vehicles, this tournament is held annually in order to determine what kind of control system works best for unmanned and autonomous vehicles.
There are no professional athletes in this race. The competitors are usually teams of programmers, engineers and system developers from various institutions and colleges, each creating their own unique artificial intelligence system and vehicle. In the actual race, the cars left to fend for themselves in a race to a goal. All the developing teams can do is stay back and monitor the progress of their entry through the race, but they are not allowed to interfere with the performance of this vehicle. This race is entirely focused on the cars themselves.
Using a variety of input devices such as cameras, global positioning satellite systems, radar, infra-red and other technologies, the cars must drive, navigate and find their way first to the goal. As impossible as it may sound, they do. The DARPA Grand Challenge is a sight to behold for both race sports fans and tech buffs alike. This event features the latest the most innovative ideas and design for cars of the future.
The application of various technologies in cars is incomparable when considering the entries to the DARPA Grand Challenge. Vehicles utilize both the latest in existing technology and also in experimental technology as well. There are vast innovations in terms of navigation tools and also in the gathering and processing of data for use in transportation.
Unmanned Courses for the Unmanned Race
The race itself is challenging, starting from simple tracks and recently stretching to urban looking locations, the cars must be able to detect and avoid not only obstacles but also each other. The vehicles will not have any form of human interference or control making it a completely under the control of artificial intelligence systems. The vehicles are marked according to performance in speed, maneuvering and coping the driving rules and safety measures. A car wins by being the first to reach the goal safely. This race is a testament to human ingenuity and innovation. GP
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