Carnegie Mellon team wins DARPA vehicle challenge

'Boss,' the self-driven vehicle engineered by Carnegie Mellon's Tartan Racing team, won first place and a $2 million cash prize this weekend in the third Grand Challenge autonomous vehicle competition sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Since 2004, DARPA has held three successively more difficult Grand Challenge contests, with the goal of developing technologies for self-guiding military vehicles that could reduce the deadly toll of vehicular-related battlefield casualties among military personnel.

Stanford University's vehicle, 'Junior,' won second place and a $1 million prize; 'Odin,' Virginia Tech's entry, won third place and a $500,000 prize.

DARPA held the final rounds of this year's Grand Challenge Oct. 26 to Nov. 3 on a course simulating urban streets at George Air Force Base, Calif., an Army training site used to teach urban-combat techniques.

The research agency's judges named the three winners Sunday after reviewing race data, score sheets for the vehicles and video footage of the event. Officials chose the winners based on a combination of their finish times and the competency they demonstrated on the urban course used for this year's contest.

A field of 35 vehicles started in the nine-day competition, all picked as semi-finalists by DARPA officials in the preceding months based on a series of increasingly detailed inspections of each team's entry.

In the week leading up to this weekend's final race, the 35 semifinalist vehicles competed in a National Qualifying Event in which DARPA narrowed the field to 11 finalists that took part in the final race on Saturday.

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