MIT’s “Talos” robocar, the 4th place finalist in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge
Image by Chris Devers
This autonomous vehicle was MIT’s entry in the DARPA Grand Challenge. Pasting from the Wikipedia page about the 2007 competition:
The third competition of the DARPA Grand Challenge, known as the "Urban Challenge", took place on November 3, 2007 at the site of the now-closed George Air Force Base (currently used as Southern California Logistics Airport), in Victorville, California (Google map). The course involved a 96 km (60-mile) urban area course, to be completed in less than 6 hours. Rules included obeying all traffic regulations while negotiating with other traffic and obstacles and merging into traffic.
The million winner was Tartan Racing, a collaborative effort by Carnegie Mellon University and General Motors Corporation, with their vehicle "Boss", a Chevy Tahoe. The second place finisher earning the million prize was the Stanford Racing Team with their entry "Junior", a 2006 Volkswagen Passat. Coming in third place was team Victor Tango from Virginia Tech winning the 0,000 prize with their 2005 Ford Escape hybrid, "Odin". MIT placed 4th, with Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania/Lehigh University also completing the course.
While the 2004 and 2005 events were more physically challenging for the vehicles, the robots operated in isolation and only encountered other vehicles on the course when attempting to pass. The Urban Challenge required designers to build vehicles able to obey all traffic laws while they detect and avoid other robots on the course. This is a particular challenge for vehicle software, as vehicles must make "intelligent" decisions in real time based on the actions of other vehicles. Other than previous autonomous vehicle efforts that focused on structured situations such as highway driving with little interaction between the vehicles, this competition operated in a more cluttered urban environment and required the cars to perform sophisticated interactions with each other, such as maintaining precedence at a 4-way stop intersection.
Other links about this vehicle:
• MIT Grand Challenge main site
• MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department page for the DARPA Grand Challenge, last updated June 19, 2007. (Images page from their site.)
• MIT News, June 28, 2007: Drivers Unwanted: MIT ‘Robocar’ takes a spin
• MIT media relations, August 9, 2007: DARPA names MIT’s ‘robocar’ a semifinalist
• MIT News, November 1, 2007: MIT’s ‘robocar’ named a finalist in DARPA Urban Challenge
• MIT media relations, November 5, 2007: MIT finishes fourth in DARPA challenge for robotic vehicles
• Boston.com, November 5, 2007: MIT team places fourth in robocar race