RALEIGH – Robotic, or autonomous, controlled vehicles have taken to the city streets in the DARPA Urban Challenge, but how well individual teams are doing is apparently a closely held secret.
The Insight Racing team from Cary and North Carolina State University is keeping its fans and followers up to date as best they can through a Web log. While the team believes it is performing well with the only sports car (a beautiful blue Lotus two-seater called the Lone Wolf) in the field, they can’t be certain if they will make the finals.
At stake is $2.5 million in prize money – and a lot of pride.
“People always ask ‘how is your team doing?’ The answer is ‘We really don’t know,” the team said in its blog on Monday.
“Unlike a sporting event, the results of the urban Challenge runs are not posted anywhere – either now or in the future,” they added.
DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Projects Agency, is secretive about more things than how the teams from across the country (including one from Georgia Tech) are doing. For example, the Insight team pointed out that neither they nor anyone else can see two of the three courses where vehicles must navigate completely without any human intervention.
“DARPA wants the robots to be robust enough to run in an area with conditions we have no knowledge of beforehand,” Insight’s blogger noted.
The gut feeling of the Insight team is that Lone Wolf is doing well. But they conceded it is only a guess.
The final event is set for November 3. Insight’s blogger noted that the finalists could be announced on Thursday. The Insight team made it to the finals in a cross-country challenge a couple years back with an old Suburban. This time they have a nimble sports car, plenty of sponsors, and loads of cutting-edge technology.
Regardless of winning or losing, the Insight team has been impressed by the quality of the robotic vehicles they have encountered in the event, which is taking place at an old Air Force base.
“Keep in mind that this whole event is mind-boggling to think the robots are doing what they are,” the team noted online. “It won’t be long until talking on your cell phone won’t be such a danger when your car is doing the driving for you!”