UT-Austin and Austin Robot Team Create Auto that Drives Itself Austin Robot Technology`s autonomous SUV advances to next stage of DARPA Urban Challenge Race
Released on = May 23, 2007, 6:20 am
Press Release Author = Laura P. Wright, BlabberMouth PR
Industry = Transportation & Logistics
Press Release Summary = Austin Robot Technology (ART), Texas' only track-proven autonomous vehicle robot team, today announced that its self-driving SUV has been selected to advance to the next stage of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) 2007 Urban Challenge race. The Isuzu SUV named "Marvin" is the result of a partnership between ART - an independent Austin-based group of programmers and engineers - The University of Texas at Austin, and computer science undergraduates being led by internationally renowned artificial intelligence expert Professor Peter Stone.
Press Release Body = AUSTIN, Texas - May 16, 2007 - Austin Robot Technology (ART), Texas' only track-proven autonomous vehicle robot team, today announced that its self-driving SUV has been selected to advance to the next stage of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) 2007 Urban Challenge race. The Isuzu SUV named "Marvin" is the result of a partnership between ART - an independent Austin-based group of programmers and engineers - The University of Texas at Austin, and computer science undergraduates being led by internationally renowned artificial intelligence expert Professor Peter Stone.
Stone's students are writing much of the artificial intelligence software that the vehicle uses to learn to drive itself as part of the UT-Austin class, "Autonomous Vehicles: Driving in Traffic."
"Professor Stone has gained worldwide attention for his extensive work in robotics and AI," said Dave Tuttle, team leader for the ART team. "We're very excited that he and UT have given us the opportunity to include our vehicle as part of their AI course."
The DARPA Urban Challenge, which will take place on November 3, 2007, will pit autonomous vehicles from around the globe against one another in a race through an artificial urban landscape. The Challenge is intended to accelerate research and development in autonomous ground vehicles that could help save lives on the battlefield. The winners will receive $2 million, $1 million or $500,000 and opportunities to commercialize their research.
The ART team made it to the semifinals in the 2005 DARPA "Grand Challenge" race, and it is hoped that the software contributions made by Stone and his students will put them over the top in the 2007 contest.
"We are involved in making history by participating in the race that is going to be heralded as the big-bang of serious field robotics," says Tarun Nimmagadda, a computer sciences major in Stone's class, which is part of the College of Natural Sciences' Freshman Research Initiative.
The vehicle must prove its mettle at a site visit by DARPA representatives this summer by successfully navigating a test course that includes a four-way intersection and moving traffic. If chosen, it will advance with 29 other teams' vehicles to the National Qualification Event in October. From there, it would advance to the Urban Challenge itself, which will be held in a yet-to-be-announced location.
This year's race is the third such race that DARPA has sponsored, and it is by far the most difficult. In 2005 Challenge, vehicles had to traverse a 150-mile dirt road through the desert, avoiding stationary obstacles in the process. Only five out of 18 finalists completed the race,
In 2007, by contrast, vehicles will confront a vastly more complex Urban Challenge that demands not just that the vehicles drive within a typically complex urban landscape-replete with potholes, intersections and improperly parked cars-but that they do so in a dynamic environment, obeying traffic laws in the process.
"This year's challenge is more interesting from an artificial intelligence perspective," says Stone. "You have to deal with a lot more uncertainties and unknowns. There will be other vehicles, possible route re-plannings, and much sparser waypoints. You get a map of the roads and where you need to get to, but it's more about the car planning for itself where it's going to go."
The objective of challenges like this one, says Stone, is to push the field forward toward the day - which he sees coming in the next few decades - when fully autonomous vehicles are safe to deploy on the public roads. The point of the course, however, is simply to expose his students to the excitement and experience of research.
"These could be the students who end up making a mark on the world in the future," he says, "and I want this to be the kind of course that can be the inspiration that really sets it off."
About Austin Robot Technology Austin Robot Technology is an autonomous SUV robot team that is fine-tuning a vehicle capable of driving itself in preparation for the DARPA Urban Challenge in November 2007.
ART's elite team of technologists offers the only Texas entry with a Challenge-tested vehicle. Their Isuzu SUV, dubbed "Marvin," is the subject of the first university course to give students hands-on experience with autonomous vehicle technology. The course is being offered at University of Texas at Austin, which is a team co-sponsor. The team is currently seeking additional sponsors for its DARPA entry. For more information, please visit: www.austinrobot.com
Web Site = http://www.austinrobot.com
Contact Details = Laura P. Wright Blabbermouth PR 512-461-5777 firstname.lastname@example.org