Only one year after Grand Challenge 2004, where the robot cars barely left the starting line, Grand Challenge 2005 saw five teams cross the finish line. Last year was an embarrassing assembly of bad robot drivers, but this year’s field clearly passed chauffeur school.
Stanford’s “Stanley,” a diesel-powered, Volkswagen Touareg R5, took six hours, fifty-three minuutes and fifty-eight seconds, to navigate the 131.6 mile course in the Mojave desert. Stanford will receive the $2 million prize from contest organizers, DARPA. And can expect lucrative U.S. Defense Department contracts, to build robot vehicles for the armed services.
I think the other four teams should now get on with more important things, like finally building those hover cars we’ve been expecting since 2001.