bruce hall on the DARPA grand challenge

background: the army wants autonomous delivery trucks. congress mandates that 1/3 of all vehicles are autonomous by 2015.
they used an over clocked 1.1 GHz TI DSP (fastest DSP on the planet) to build a 3D terrain map 60 times a second. Based on that information, they compute 100 possibilities and pick the most promising one. this computation uses 36 billion pixel operations per second. they hacked into the steering electronics of a standard toyota truck throttle to feed in their vehicle control. these guys used DSPs to avoid stuffing their trunks with computers like the competition did. insurance issues prevented the team from sitting in the truck to debug it: the government disallowed them to sit in the autonomous vehicle during debugging. don’t you love insurance policies :)
their GPS worked to within 6 inches precision. DARPA was concerned with universities not moving autonomous vehicles forward fast enough. “no one of us ever expected to see our vehicles again once they crossed the start line.” they were thinking, as it drove away, “what should we put on the insurance claim form?” for next year, they will abandon the CCD sensors and use an array of 100 lasers that will scan the surroundings 360 degrees and build a terrain map. this will get around the accuracy problems. next time, vehicles that avoid obstacle detection (as everyone did in 2004) will be destroyed by tank blockers, DARPA promised.
the truck used in the challenge sites in the parking lot, bruce drove it out here :)