On to the Race

With the National Qualifier teams announced, the die is cast for the 2007 Urban Challenge. When we arrive in Victorville Boss will be sporting #19, the same number Sandstorm wore when it finished the 2005 Grand Challenge. We have started an intense period where we will close out development and focus on polishing and testing the vehicles for the qualifiers and race. As a first step we took Boss out to the BeaveRun race track to perform an endurance test. Boss completed over 20 miles of testing on a winding go cart track. Thanks to the great folks at BeaveRun for giving us the track time.

76 days to the race

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Carnegie Mellon Team Named Semifinalist in DARPA Urban Challenge

Tartan Racing Among 36 Teams Invited to National Qualification Event in October

PITTSBURGH - Carnegie Mellon University's Tartan Racing team is one of 36 contenders that advanced today toward a spot in the DARPA Urban Challenge, a $2 million robotic vehicle race that will take place Nov. 3 at an urban military training facility in Victorville, Calif.

Tartan Racing's self-driving Chevy Tahoe, "Boss," must now compete for one of 20 positions in the starting lineup at the National Qualification Event (NQE) Oct. 26 - 31, which also will be at the Victorville training facility on the former George Air Force Base. The slate of semifinalists and the venues for the competition were announced today by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency officials at the agency's annual technical symposium in Anaheim, Calif. It marked the latest narrowing of the field, which began with 89 teams last fall, then dropped to 53 teams this spring and now stands at 36.

"The teams that advanced to the qualifiers are highly capable; the semifinalists are strong," said William L. "Red" Whittaker, Tartan Racing team leader and a University Professor in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. "Today's cut was heartbreaking for those who invested a year and missed the mark. Today's announcement raised the stakes for Tartan Racing."

Though just 82 days remain before the NQE, Tartan Racing Director of Technology Chris Urmson said the team's two vehicles have already logged hundreds of test miles and are becoming more adept at driving by the day. "Boss today can handle maneuvers at 30 miles an hour that it performed at 15 miles an hour back in June," Urmson said. "It can park itself and it can yield at intersections, not just stop."

Boss is equipped with lasers, radars and cameras to sense roads and other cars, and has ten computers and 200,000 lines of software behind the wheel. Though not yet capable of all the driving behaviors it will need to win the Nov. 3 race, "it's getting closer," Urmson said. "We will be testing our vehicle intensely in increasingly difficult traffic, as we put finishing touches on the algorithms that drive Boss." Two identical versions of Boss have been developed to enable extra testing and road experience, though under DARPA rules only one will compete in the Urban Challenge.

The Urban Challenge is a competitive rally for autonomous cars, with prizes of $2 million, $1 million and $500,000 for the top three finishers that complete the course within a six-hour time limit.. Vehicles have to navigate, park and deal with traffic on a 60-mile suburban course. They must operate without human guidance and rely only on sensors and computers. They must obey traffic laws, merge into moving traffic, avoid obstacles and negotiate intersections.

"Technology from the Urban Challenge is destined to change the driving experience," Whittaker said. Tartan Racing is committed to applying those technologies to improve automotive safety and convenience, and to the broader future of robotics. Sponsors of the team include General Motors, Caterpillar, Continental AG, Intel, Google, Applanix, TeleAtlas, NetApp, Vector CANTech, Ibeo, Mobileye, HP, CarSim, CleanPower Resources, M/A-COM and McCabe Software. The team includes members from both the university and the sponsor organizations.

For more on Tartan Racing, see www.tartanracing.org. For more on the Urban Challenge, visit www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge.
Team Contact: Michele Gittleman - 412-268-6556, info@tartanracing.org

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Semi-Finalists to be announced TODAY - 1:45 PM Eastern

Today DARPA will announce the 30 semi-finalists moving on to the qualifiers in October. We will also learn the location of that event, as well as the location for the final competition on November 3rd. Details for to tune in to the live webcast of the announcement are:
  • The announcement of the selection of the semifinalist teams for the Urban Challenge will be made by DARPA Director Dr. Tony Tether on August 9, 2007, at DARPATech in Anaheim, CA. The announcement will be webcast live at 1045 PDT/1345 EDT. The live webcast will be available for access at 1030 PDT/1330 EDT.

If you haven't already marked your calendars, here's a recap of the dates of events:

  • Vehicle testing at the National Qualification Event will take place from October 26-31. Teams may arrive on site starting at 0900 PST on October 24, and should plan to attend the Welcome Meeting at 1700 PST on October 25.

  • Spectators are welcome to attend Urban Challenge Final Event (November 3, 2007). The location will be announced on August 9, 2007, and the event is free of charge.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support.

Best regards,

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Tartan Racing DARPA Site Visit

Boss performed exactly as planned during our DARPA site visit on Monday. For those of you who missed the live action, here are some highlights:

It was great to see so many of you at the event!

Best regards from Robot City,


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Press Release: Carnegie Mellon’s Tartan Racing Team Vies for Spot in Urban Challenge

View press release

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Press Release: Boss Tackles Streets and Parking Lots

View press release

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Boss Tan Arrives

Our second robot arrived at the Desert Proving Grounds today. Boss (Tan) spent the last month being outfitted with various automotive sensors and a new Continental brake-by-wire system. We're excited to have him back, and looking forward to seeing the two robots operating together in the Arizona Sun.

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Boss Arrives

Boss arrived today and quickly became at home in our new shop. Most of the morning was spent setting up the shop and our computer network. After completing a site orientation, several team members completed an advanced driver training course where we got to practice skidding and high-speed lane changes, while others got back to work.

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Arizona Field Report

The first wave of the field team arrived safely today. We had an opportunity to checkout the building which will be our base of operations at the proving grounds. It looks great. We've got plenty of room for the robots, our equipment and for people to work. Tomorrow we'll go through driver training, orientation and setup the shop.

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Headin' West

Boss is on its way west. The robot and our shop are packed up and loaded on a tractor trailer for the trip to the GM Desert Proving Grounds. The truck will meet it in Mesa on Friday and then we'll spend the next two months developing and testing in the temperate Arizona winter.

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Boss Dodging Cones

Tonight we caught video of Boss weaving through cones on a test course. The driving was smooth and fast. Enjoy the video below. This will be the last winter weather Boss experiences for a while since tomorrow morning it departs for two-months of testing in Arizona.

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Boss Takes a Ride

Tuesday was Boss' coming out event. On a wintry Pittsburgh afternoon we were joined by sponsors, friends and the media in watching Boss gracefully handle intersections and navigate a road course at speeds up to 20 mph. The event was covered by three Pittsburgh TV stations and both papers (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

Thanks to our many sponsors and friends who took time to visit with the team prior to our departure for Arizona. It was a blast.

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More Intersection Testing

able to deal with drivers not waiting for their turn and is more robust to the current limitations of our perception system. See some of the testing below.

See Boss drive live on Tuesday!

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Meet The "Boss"

Carnegie Mellon's Tartan Racing Team Unveils Self-Driving Vehicle

TARTAN RACING OPEN HOUSE: Carnegie Mellon's Tartan Racing team will unveil Boss, the modified Chevy Tahoe that will be its entry in this fall's DARPA Urban Challenge, during an open house from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 23.

Team members will demonstrate Boss' autonomous driving capabilities and will be happy to answer questions and discuss their plans for the Urban Challenge.

The Urban Challenge, set for Nov. 3, 2007, at an as-yet-undisclosed site in the western U.S., will pit self-driving vehicles against each other on a course that simulates an urban environment. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will award $2 million to the first team to complete the challenge, encompassing about 60 miles of driving, in six hours or less.

WHEN: 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007.

WHERE: The Roundhouse at Robot City, located on the former LTV site in Hazelwood. Tartan Racing is headquartered in the roundhouse and tests its vehicles on a portion of the LTV site.

Directions: (or Google: 4170 2nd Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15207)

From Downtown, head south on Second Avenue or, from Oakland, take Bates Street to Second Avenue and turn left. Follow Second Avenue past Hot Metal Bridge and, before taking a sharp left to follow the street through an underpass, continue straight to enter the former LTV site. At the first building, which has a sign for "Damian Hantz, locomotive repair," turn through the gate to the left of the building and continue towards the left. Follow the road down the hill, and take the second right turn at the bottom of the hill. Park on this section of road and walk along road toward the city skyline to roundhouse; entrance to Tartan Racing is on the right side of the roundhouse.

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3-Way Intersection

Early this morning Boss successfully navigated a 3-way intersection for the first time. The robot yielded to other vehicles as appropriate, and took right of way when it was first to arrive. This accomplishment represents a huge step in the integration of our perception, planning and behavior software.

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Multi-Vehicle Behaviors

We have graduated from waypoint following to simulated multi-vehicle behaviors. The attached videos show both intersection and distance keeping running in simulation. Both of these behaviors have been tested on a physical robot with simulated perception. The videos are sped up 8 times.

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Computing Cluster

Robot City now has a computing cluster thanks to a generous donation from Intel. Thank you Intel. The cluster is consists of a number of Core2Duo laptops and will be used by the team for testing and development on the Urban Challenge and other projects.

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Multi-Checkpoint Mission

We crossed a major milestone this week with the first completion of a multi-checkpoint mission. The late night video captures our Tahoe running a mission around the robot city test site. Enjoy the driving and the night time Pittsburgh skyline.

We also completed fabrication and testing of a board we will use to synchronize our computers to one another and GPS time. Synchronization is key to reconstructing the world from the numerous sensors we'll incorporate on the robot.

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Black Tahoe

We're closing another exciting week. Our second robot arrived from GM. The workmanship is again excellent, and we're excited to finish building it up and to get it out on the test course. We also made our first steps in integrating road driving behaviors with our navigation software. The video shows our robot waiting (in simulation) for an intersection to clear before crossing traffic. An important first step with less than a year to go.

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10 Mile Endurance Test

Yesterday the robot completed its first 50 mile endurance test running with the complete planning system, and simulated perception. We achieved a top speed of 28mph. The only glitch was a memory leak which, at 36 miles, forced the restart of a process. The problem has already been identified and a software fix is already in the pipes. A video of the run shown below.

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Our kick-off meeting marked our largest team gathering to date. Visitors from General Motors, Caterpillar, Continental, Applanix and Darpa made the day great.

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50 Mile Reliability Test

Yesterday evening our robot completed a 50 mile reliability test, waypoint following around the robot city site at speeds up to 25 mph. The test helped validate the reliability of the mechanical, electrical and software infrastructure. The repeatability of the state-estimation and control are clearly visible in the last picture.

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First Steps

Today our Tan Tahoe took its first autonomous steps, waypoint following for more than a mile on a soggy Pittsburgh track. Game on.

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Track "A"

Tartan Racing is among 11 teams selected to compete in the Urban Challenge under Track A:

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Tan Arrives

Today, the first Tahoe we'll convert to a robot arrived from General Motors. It's beautiful. Thanks GM.

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