And another thing...

WAY THE BALL BOUNCES. Early this month, the Office of Personnel Management was briefly in the running for RFP of the Year when it posted a request on FedBizOpps for 'Christmas Balls for OPM's Christmas Tree.' It was a remarkable document, which got down to details: 5,000 to 10,000 balls, each 3 to 4 inches in diameter and bearing a full-color image of the U.S. flag and the OPM seal. True to RFP form, it also asked vendors to produce a capability statement and/or a sample of similar work. Plus, they had the ornaments not to ask for 'holiday' balls or something similar. Alas, its moment of glory did not endure. An OPM spokeswoman told the Washington Post that the RFP hadn't been approved, but that someone had gotten carried away after the idea was discussed. The request was withdrawn.

ROBO RAGE. Driving around rocks in the open desert is one thing, but designers of robotic vehicles are now going to get a real test'city traffic. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is going downtown with the DARPA Urban Challenge.The agency is challenging teams to come up with unmanned vehicles that can negotiate a simulated 60-mile urban course in less than six hours. Sixty miles in six hours would blend right in to certain cities, though in at least one way, the vehicles will be conspicuous: The rules state that 'vehicles must autonomously obey traffic laws.' So it will be obvious that humans aren't driving. The Challenge has spurred progress in robotics. In the first event, none of the entries completed the desert course'or even got very far. In the second, five competitors finished the 131.6-mile course in the Mojave Desert. As with that race, the Urban Challenge offers a first prize of $2 million. Ladies and gentlemen, start your GPS receivers.

Drive home your points at [email protected].


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