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Robot car challenge goes urban

Robot-controlled cars will be racing around a 60-mile course on a former US Air Force base this weekend, in pursuit of a $2million prize from a US military agency. The DARPA Urban Challenge gives 11 finalists six hours to perform a number of tasks in a realistic urban environment with live traffic. Chief robot overlord Dr Norman Whitaker says the vehicles ‘will have to think like human drivers and continually make split-second decisions to avoid moving vehicles, including robotic vehicles without drivers, and operate safely on the course’.

This is serious robotic kung-fu – the tasks are at the level of a California driving test, and no direct human control is allowed except ‘for safety reasons’. There’s no flying yet, and for some reason none of the entrants is using a black Pontiac Trans Am, but surely it’s only a matter of time…

(Image: from dougward’s Flickr stream)

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