Being a fan of science, technology, and especially ROBOTS, I just had to put up a link to this site. It's the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Grand Challenge, a competition to create a robotic vehicle for use by the military. Last year a prize of $1 million was offered to anyone who could complete the course through the Nevada desert but none of the robotic vehicles made it. Most broke down or crashed early in the race. The prize was doubled to $2 million for this year's competition. The race took place earlier today and several vehicles completed the entire 132-mile course!
No official winner was declared last time I checked, as the times have to be verified. The various vehicles began the race at different times.
What's really unique about these robotic vehicles is that they had to be autonomous, meaning they were not controlled by anyone with a remote control--they had to travel the entire course, which included obstacles, completely on their own. Of course the modifications and software were created by the various teams which were sponsored by corporations and universities.
Now some people might say, what's the big deal?--we've had robot rovers on Mars running around. But the Mars rover was not a full-sized vehicle, moved very slow, and there are few obstacles on the surface of Mars to interfere with its travels (except for maybe an occassional rock). These robotic vehicles included trucks, jeeps, even Hummers, all modified with GPS, cameras, lasers, etc., not to mention the sophisticated software required to analyze all the data necessary to keep the vehicle on the road & avoid obstacles.
Well, anyway if you're a geek like me (you probably already know about this) or not, then check out the site.
Hey, maybe someday there'll be robot NASCAR races!! Would that mean no more cute NASCAR drivers?
Sorry , I just put that last line in there to tease a couple of NASCAR fans I know :)