Segments in this Video

Self-Driving Robots (07:41)


In October 2005, teams brought robotic vehicles to a speedway to compete in The Grand Challenge. Hopeful competitors discuss the race and its challenges. The most successful teams will go on to attempt a long distance desert race.

Developing Driverless Vehicles (07:31)

DARPA sponsors The Grand Challenge in an effort to develop unmanned vehicles for military use; robotic autonomy is difficult. Watch the Highlander attempt to navigate on its own for the first time.

Grand Challenge Teams (08:46)

Carnegie Melon's Red Team leader William Red Whittaker explains his philosophical approach to the challenge. Meet other competitors including Team Dad's duo Bruce and Dave Hall, Team TerraMax's Gary Schmiedel, Blue Team's Anthony Levandowski, and Stanford University's Sebastian Thrun.

Training the Robots (05:34)

The Stanford University team tests their robot's driving software in the Mojave Desert. Programmer Mike Montemerlo tests Stanley on the original race track. Red Team's Kevin Peterson trains Sandstorm to drive at high speeds.

Qualifying for the Grand Challenge (06:01)

A year later, the Grand Challenge is on and DARPA officials are present to judge contestants. The finalists move on to the next challenge, a 132 mile maze across the desert with multiple obstacles.

Attempting the Grand Challenge (08:38)

On the morning of the race, the final teams receive a map of the and load it into their robots. The vehicles take off as the teams watch from the sidelines. DARPA vehicles follow each robot to record information about their performance.

Completing the Final Stretch (07:15)

One hundred and two miles into the race, Stanley catches up with Highlander, and successfully navigates around it. With five robots remaining, Stanley becomes the first robot to drive 132 miles autonomously. DARPA honors the teams whose vehicles completed the race before announcing the winner.

Credits: The Great Robot Race (00:51)

Credits: The Great Robot Race

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The Great Robot Race

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The Defense Department is offering two million dollars to the builders of the first robotic vehicle to cover a 210-mile stretch of desert in California and Nevada. NOVA goes behind the scenes as top engineering teams struggle to solve the daunting problems of making a vehicle drive itself. Will legions of robot vehicles fight our future wars?

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: FPT151387

Copyright date: ©2006

Closed Captioned

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