Thomas Frey: What a difference a year makes.

The first year, 2004, of DARPA’s Grand Challence was very disappointing to all who were involved in the competition where none of the vehicles were able to even come close to the finish line. Most teams went back home, dusted off their egos, and began again, this time attacking the problem with a vengeance.

The hard work is now finally starting to pay off. The 2005 Grand Challenge has produced a much improved competition with four of the robotic vehicles finishing the 123 mile course, with two of them completing it within the 10 hour time limit required by DARPA.

DARPA will award $2 million to the first vehicle covering the race in less than 10 hours, in this case, the team from Stanford.

The unmanned vehicles were required to use their onboard computer and a variety of sensing devices to follow a programmed route while at the same time avoiding a series of unique obstacles that may end their chances.

More here.