- Robotic Motorcycle Competing in the DARPA Grand Challenge
DARPA Grand Challenge is a competition aimed at generating technology
enable vehicles to drive autonomously between two locations along a
route in a realistic unstructured environment at useful speed. The
put on by the Defense Advance Research Project Agency, carries
million prize for the fastest vehicle to complete the 175 mile course
is a robotic motorcycle competing in the DARPA Grand Challenge.
motorcycle is a highly modified 90CC dirt bike equipped with stability,
and obstacle avoidance systems hosted on AMD Dual-core Opteron
computers. Obstacle avoidance is entirely vision based with two
approaches: a) two black and white Cognex camera stereo vision,
single color Cognex camera for road detection.
Levandowski, the team leader of the Blue team entering Ghostrider
DARPA Grand Challenge will give an overview of last year's race and
how ghostrider functions. The vehicle will be present and
if location and weather permit.
his talk by explaining that the DARPA Challenge course runs from
somewhere near Los Angeles to somewhere near Las Vegas, over roads that
are expected to be good enough to pass a two wheel drive pickup truck
without difficulty. The actual course is only announced two hours
before the starting time, so that competitors don't have a chance to
program it into the hardware of their racers. All of the competing
machines must simply use the list of GPS coordinates and sensor data to
stay on the road for the duration.
year had been the first year for the DARPA Challenge. There had been 40
vehicles that qualified, and the best one had gotten about seven miles
into the course before being disqualified. Levandowski showed
us pictures of some of them. They ranged from a six wheeled vehicle
that looked a lot like a small tank to a pickup truck without a driver.
Many were completely designed from scratch just to run this course
without a driver. The Blue Team was the only challenger to run a
motorcycle last year, and expected to be the only one to run a two
wheeled vehicle again this year.
us digital movies of his motorcycle running through its paces. It is
quite capable of going over bumps and staying on the road and following
directions from one GPS position to another. He explained that the
vision systems can detect obstacles fifty feet away, and send
corrections to the steering at a 60 Hz rate. There is also a
guidance system that detects tipping and factors corrections for that
into the steering,
years competition will be on October 8th. Levandowski expects
the field to be about 200 racers. He thinks there will be at least one
finisher this year. If there isn't, DARPA will run the Challenge again
next year and maybe the year after.
Q&A the following came up:
electronics are running on a PC motherboard with a LINUX OS. In the
beginning they tried to use Windows but they had lots of problems
getting it to run fast enough. They compile the system in house, so
that it has only the modules they need.
is running the Challenge because they weren't able to get a weapons
contractor to solve the problem of designing a robot supply vehicle for
forward deployed Army units. They are hoping the $2 Million purse will
be enough incentive to get somebody to come through with a solution
they can build on.
competition is called a challenge instead of a race because it is
illegal to have races in the Mojave Desert.
us his robot motorcycle. It's a normal kiddie size one with a roll bar
cage around a couple of boxes of electronics and three motorcycle
batteries to power them. Instead of handlebars, there is a large beer
can sized electric motor with the shaft leading directly down towards
the front wheel. It sits neatly in the bed of a pickup truck, with room
to spare. There are lots of wear marks on the roll bars, so it has
obviously endured a lot of testing.
the Discovery Channel to run a program about the machine in a few weeks.
is the first robot motorcycle that has ever been made, as far as Levandowski knows.
That is one of the reasons he is so excited about the
the race is over, Levandowski is hoping to sell the
technology to people like consumer reports for use in crash testing
more information, please visit: