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"--Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

"--We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." -- John F. Kennedy, Address given at Rice University, September 12, 1962

Austin Robot Technology Vision

Competing at the DARPA Urban Challenge is larger than winning a prize; itís about discovery. Austin Robot Technology is passionate about the future and benefits of autonomous vehicles. This competition is compelling us to think about transportation in a different way. The goal of the Urban Challenge is to provide our nation with dramatic advances in support of military missions in order to save lives on the battlefield. The advances we make in the process will ultimately be used to make innovations in transportation never before possible.

Our Team

Austin Robot Technology is a team of volunteers, with a wide range of expertise in hardware, software and mechanical systems. We are designing and building an autonomous vehicle to compete in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. Our team also competed in the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and for this year's competition we have been working with UT Professor Peter Stone and his class during his course on artificial intelligence that centered on our self-driving SUV. As recipient of the 2007 Computers and Thought Award from the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence, Dr. Stoneís generous participation is especially significant and greatly appreciated. The Urban Challenge is an exciting, difficult, and highly competitive contest and we relish the opportunity to help push the envelope of technology. The goal of the Urban Challenge is to save lives on the battlefield and we want to help develop this technology.


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, is the central Research and Development arm of the Department of Defense. DARPA's mission is to do advanced research and their primary responsibility is to conceive, explore, and demonstrate breakthrough concepts and advanced technologies.

Over the decades DARPA has fulfilled its mission very well, with an impressive list of accomplishments. President Kennedy in 1961 knew that DARPA was working on the Saturn rocket when he said that we should commit our nation to landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade. He knew we couldn't get to the moon without a powerful rocket, but he knew the rocket was coming. Another example of a DARPA success story is The Internet which started out as Arpanet in the 1970's. The 1980's brought us GPS (the Global Positioning System) and the Stealth fighters, and we saw the success of the Predator and GlobalHawk robotic aircraft in the 1990's. All in all, the story of DARPA is a story of successful technological innovation.

What is the DARPA Urban Challenge?

The DARPA Urban Challenge will be a field test intended to accelerate research and development in autonomous ground vehicles that will help save American lives on the battlefield.

Both the DARPA Urban Challenge National Qualification Event on October 26-31, 2007, and the final event on Saturday, November 3, 2007, will take place at the urban military training facility located on the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, California. Austin Robot Technology is one of 36 semi-finalists invited by DARPA to attend the 2007 qualifying event.

The Urban Challenge will feature autonomous ground vehicles maneuvering in a mock city environment, executing simulated military supply missions while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections, and avoiding obstacles. DARPA is offering $2M for the fastest qualifying vehicle and $1M and $500,000 for second and third place, respectively.

This program is an outgrowth of two previous DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous vehicle competitions. The first Grand Challenge event was held in March 2004 and featured a 142-mile desert course. Fifteen autonomous ground vehicles attempted the course and no vehicle finished. In the 2005 Grand Challenge, four autonomous vehicles successfully completed a 132-mile desert route under the required 10-hour limit.

Austin Robot Technology also showed well at the 2005 Grand Challenge. Close to 200 teams entered the competition and ART was one of 43 semi-finalists invited by DARPA to attend the qualifying event.

"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." -- Chinese Proverb

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