DARPA Grand Challenge

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DARPA Grand Challenge
DARPA Grand Challenge
General information
Category:US FHWA
From 2004 to N/A Ongoing
DARPA Challenge

The DARPA Grand Challenge is a prize competition for American autonomous vehicles, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the most prominent research organization of the United States Department of Defense. Congress has authorized DARPA to award cash prizes to further DARPA's mission to sponsor revolutionary, high-payoff research that bridges the gap between fundamental discoveries and military use. The initial DARPA Grand Challenge was created to spur the development of technologies needed to create the first fully autonomous ground vehicles capable of completing a substantial off-road course within a limited time.


The first annual DARPA challenge was in 2004, where cars designed by many colleges were to complete a 150-mile course through the Mojave Desert and the prize money would be one million dollars. None of the robotic cars were able to complete the whole course.

The DARPA challenges were continued in the following year where Stanford University’s robotic car Stanley, won the challenge, where the prize money was two million dollars. There were 195 registered teams and 23 were selected as finalists. Four of the robotic cars completed the course with Stanford’s car Stanley finished in first. (Thrun, 2010) This indicated that the advancement in robotic cars had a significant impact. In 2007, DARPA created the urban challenge where the robotic cars would have to follow California traffic laws in the city. The Carnegie Mellon University’s robot “Boss,” had won this challenge while Stanford’s robotic car “Junior” took second place. This event was a huge step compared to driving in a desert while these robotic cars had to make certain choices to where they wanted to go in the city, such as stopping at 4-way intersections, knowing whether it’s a green light or red light, and avoid hitting other cars during the challenge. These two cars were both designed with Volkswagens. “Both vehicles utilize custom interfaces to enable direct, electronic actuation of throttle, brakes, gear shifting, and steering. Vehicle data are communicated to Linux-based computer systems through CAN bus interfaces.” (Thrun, 2010) The DARPA Grand challenges are ways robotic cars can continue in the efforts to further advance their technology in robotic cars.


Budget / Funding