The DARPA Urban Challenge is a contest to build an autonomous vehicle that can operate in a city setting - a car that can drive itself around town. Sound like science fiction? Stanford University is well down the path to achieving it with "Junior", a modified Volkswagen Passat wagon, powered by a pair of Intel quad core computers, and some of the most advanced software in the world.
Sound familiar? It should. Stanford Racing Team's "Stanley" autonomous vehicle won the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005. In fact, it was one of only 5 vehicles to finish the 132 mile desert course. So these guys obviously know what they're doing. :-)
I shot this 6 minute video at Research@Intel Day at Intel's Santa Clara campus, where Stanford and Intel researchers were showing off Junior. I talked with Sebastian Thrun from Stanford and Scott Ettinger from Intel about the story behind Junior, and the hardware and software used to make him go.
Find out more about Junior and the Stanford Racing Team as well as the DARPA Urban Challenge on their respective sites. The DARPA Urban Challenge is scheduled to take place on Nov. 3, 2007, so tune and cheer Junior on! :-)
The video file is a 640x360 MPEG-4 H.264 video file. It weighs about 73MB, and should play just fine on your computer, iPod, Apple TV, iPhone, or just about any other device that can play Quicktime video. You can download the video directly at this link, or watch it in the player above. The best way to get the show, though, is to subscribe to the Bit Stories feed in your favorite media aggregator (like iTunes). That way, new Bit Stories episodes get delivered to you automagically. The show's home page is http://intel.com/software/bitstories, and you can find other episodes and more information there. Enjoy! :-)