It's kind of like "I, Robot" meets "The Amazing Race," with a dash of "Deal or No Deal."
That's our take, at least, on DARPA's 2007 Urban Challenge, an autonomous robot race through city traffic with a $2 million prize. In naming the final 89 contestants, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency says all but three of the 23 teams that raced in 2005's Grand Challenge--across the Mojave desert--will compete next year. Notable returns are the 2005 winner, Stanford Racing Team, 2005 finisher Team Oshkosh Truck (Terramax) and Team CalTech.
Others robots to tackle the challenge of autonomous city-driving include the French team DOTMOBIL, Team MIT from Cambridge, Mass., and a group called "A Bunch of Dropouts" from Kingman, Ariz. Carnegie Mellon, a pioneer of robotics with two vehicles in last year's race, retired its Sandstorm, a modified Hummer that had performed in DARPA's first two Grand Challenges. I guess racing a robot Hummer in downtown traffic may not be the wisest move.