Ravi Mohan's Blog

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Watching the DARPA Car Race

It is almost 3 in the morning here in Bangalore as I type this. I've been watching the webcast of the DARPA Car Race. This years challenge was for the autonomous ( == no human control) robot cars to accomplish three sub-missions in an urban environment, following all traffic laws (obeying traffic signs, recognizing and conceding right of way etc). This task is a magnitude tougher than finishing a 130 mile autonomous drive in the desert, with zero human control, which was the goal of the DARPA 2005 car race.

Stanford's entry, Junior, just pulled in to the finishing area. While it isn't yet clear who won (because this is not a first past the post race), I'd put my money on Junior. (His (its? :-) ) predecessor Stanley won the 2005 Grand Challenge. This is history being made before our eyes.

The sight of the cars driving themselves, with the steering visible through the windows turning with no human hand at the controls is .. exhilarating... exalting... too cool for words. This is **REAL** programming in action. The people who made this happen are just incredible. Congratulations to all!

How lucky does one have to be to live in these times?

Now to drag myself off to bed (and dream of autonomous vehicles).

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