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¶ darpa grand challenge
A couple months ago, the first ever DARPA Grand Challenge was held. To summarize, teams had to build vehicles that could autonomously drive 150 miles through the Mojave Desert. Lots of teams entered, some were dinky little high school teams, and some were from powerhouses of robotics like Carnegie Mellon and Caltech. It was a complete disaster. No team made it farther than 8 miles. Vehicles got stuck in ditches, rolled over, ran into parked vans, etc. Embarrassment.

After that fiasco, a group of students and alumni up here at MIT decided to put together a Grand Challenge team of their own for the next race, so I dragged Karen to a meeting tonight (well, didn't really drag, she seemed fairly excited). There's this mentality here that's sort of like "ooh lookit us, we're the best engineering school in the world, we'll 0wn th1s r4ce". But it seems pretty cool, and I'm thinking of joining in to help out on the software systems side. Karen's done some hard core stereo vision, which would be crazy useful. I've done useless stuff like realtime face detection. Don't think that's so helpful out in the middle of the desert...

Currently, the team is split up into several groups - software, vehicle, sensors, and funding. Vehicle is thinking of buying an old British army tank to use. That would be sweet. Carnegie Mellon used a hummer for the first race - it got stuck in a ditch and its wheels caught fire. You ever see that happen, brandon? =P

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