Image: TerraMax
Business Wire
Team Oshkosh's TerraMax truck is the largest competitor in the DARPA Urban Challenge for autonomous vehicles.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/2/2007 6:55:32 PM ET 2007-11-02T22:55:32

Eleven autonomous vehicles are set to vie Saturday in a multimillion-dollar, Pentagon-sponsored road race that will test their ability to drive in traffic without human help.

The competitors, which include last year's winning team from Stanford University, were selected from a field of 35 robots that participated in a weeklong driving test at the former George Air Force Base east of Los Angeles.

The first-place prize is $2 million. A second-place finisher would receive $1 million, and the third-place prize is $500,000.

The contest is bankrolled by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which faces a congressional deadline to have a third of military ground vehicles unmanned by 2015. It's the third time DARPA has held the robotic competitions. The first two took place in the Mojave Desert.

In the latest challenge, robotic vehicles fitted with computers and sensors have to weave through a 60-mile obstacle course and carry out mock supply missions in less than six hours. They will be judged on their ability to park, merge with traffic, pass other cars, navigate traffic circles and obey California driving rules without human help.

If no vehicle completes the course satisfactorily in the required six hours, the prize money would roll over to the next running of the challenge.

The road test could turn into a rematch between rivals Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University. Stanford last year won the $2 million race after its Volkswagen SUV crossed the finish line ahead of two entries by Carnegie Mellon.

The other contestants include Ben Franklin Racing Team from Philadelphia; CarOLO from Caroline, N.Y.; Honeywell/Intelligent Vehicle Solutions from Troy, Mich.; MIT from Cambridge, Mass.; Team Cornell from Ithaca, N.Y.; Victor Tango from Blacksburg, Va.; Team AnnieWay from Palo Alto, Calif.; Team Oshkosh Truck from Oshkosh, Wis.; and Team UCF from Orlando, Fla.

This report includes information from The Associated Press and msnbc.com.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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