DARPA Challenge

DARPA, the defense research agency responsible for the creation of the Internet, presented the Grand Challenge the last two years where a vehicle had to negotiate 132 miles of rugged terrain in under 10 hours. After no entrants finished the first year, several automated vehicles finished the second year giving great promise for the future of cheap, efficient and safe autonomous vehicle transit. It is impressive how such low budget competitions can through hype and prestige induce enormous advances in technological development. I highly recommend watching this inspiring Horizon documentary on the races.

1 comment:

Timothy said...

financial incentives are always a good motivator to do useful work. Another example is the Ansari-X prize, which I think was only 10 million dollars. Incidently, Anousheh Ansari was the babe who went to the ISS this year. The 10 million dollar prize was enough incentive to get private space travel off the ground and into space. Now we've got Richard Branson developing the business model and the technology via Virgin Galactic.
Maybe when McDonald's Mare Tranquillitatis opens I will rue the day, but right now I'm all for the progress made by private industry in space travel.