DARPA’s Grand Challenge, which launched in 2004, was the first long distance competition for driverless cars. Over 100 teams registered during the competition’s first year. The first year saw DARPA offer $1 million to Carnegie Mellon’s Red Team, while the second year’s grand prize was $2 million (Stanford Racing Team took the prize).
Google announced last weekend that it has developed a car that can drive itself. A small fleet of the vehicles has logged more than 1,000 miles of entirely automated driving and 140,000 miles of driving with only occasional human intervention. It’s a development of historic significance: few events have changed the experience of life on earth as much as last century’s proliferation of hundreds of millions of automobiles. The automobile was a revolution in personal autonomy, but it came with great costs. Now we’ve entered an era when that personal autonomy will become automated and some of the automobile’s costs could be mitigated as a result (Marshall Kirkpatrick).
In the words of Larry and Sergey – What we’re driving at …
So we have developed technology for cars that can drive themselves. Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.
As Google engineers and Italian scientists take on autonomous cars, so too does a group in Berlin (http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6113648,00.html) .They hope to kickstart the industry with new kinds of cars within a decade or sooner. Scientists from Berlin’s Free University have demonstrated their autonomous car dubbed “Made In Germany” or MIG. T. The converted Volkswagen Passat station wagon is equipped with discreet sensors, cameras and a computer system, which is able to process the input, and steer, accelerate and brake appropriately.