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Two Carnegie Mellon bots in DARPA Challenge

For $2 million prize, university's Hummers will attempt to traverse 175 miles of desert in less than 10 hours. Agency will watch.

The Red Team from Carnegie Mellon University will field two robotic cars in the second DARPA Challenge, taking place in October. Under the contest, robotic cars will attempt to drive 175 miles through the desert in less than 10 hours. The winners, if any, will receive $2 million.

The contest draws student groups and well-funded university efforts alike. Caterpillar, Intel and Boeing are some of the sponsors of the Red Team, which will build their robots out of donated Hummers. Last year, the entry from CMU, one of the premier robotic research universities, only went 7.4 miles on the course, but that was farther than others made it. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which hopes to obtain a wide swath of ideas from these contests, will also hold challenges for aerial and other types of robots, the agency has said. Following time trials, DARPA will select 20 teams to participate.