Cars line up for Darpa Urban Challenge

Cars line up for Darpa Urban Challenge

Corporates muscle in on competition

More details on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) Urban Challenge have been released before the competition kicks off on Saturday.

A total of 35 teams are competing in the challenge to build a driverless vehicle that can successfully operate in an urban environment. The cars will have to perform eight specific tasks without crashing into buildings or other vehicles.

"We are fairly confident that the Carnegie Mellon team will do well," said Professor Peter Lee, from the university's computer science department.

"But the wild card is the corporate sector. The last competition was almost totally done by amateurs or educational bodies, but the corporate entries might cause some surprises."

Robotics firm Autonomous Solutions sponsored academic teams in previous competitions but this time has decided to do the job itself with a car it calls 'Ted'.

The team is building a low-tech system that uses GPS and laser guiders to navigate through 'city' streets and avoid other traffic.

"Many teams are loading their vehicles with expensive sensors, but we are trying to make as few changes to the vehicle as possible so that we can convert it into a marketable commercial product," said Josh Johnston, an engineer working on the project.

The competition will be held at an Army base in Victorville, California. The site is a mock up of a city that the US Army uses to train soldiers in urban combat.