December 10, 2007
Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon and the Pittsburgh campus hosted a celebration honoring the Carnegie Mellon Tartan Racing Team, winners of the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. The celebration was held Dec. 4 in the University Center's Rangos Ballroom (view photos).
In this video, William "Red" Whittaker (E '75, '79), a robotics professor and the team leader of Tartan Racing, speaks about the technologies behind Boss and the effects of robotic adventures at Carnegie Mellon. If you are unable to see the video below, you will need to download and install the FlashÂ® plug-in.
Officials of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) declared Boss the winner of the Nov. 3 event, which pitted 11 autonomous vehicles against each other on a course of suburban/urban roadways. The first place prize includes a $2 million cash award.
Faculty, students, and alumni from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) were among the contributors to the 45-member Tartan Racing team.
Raj Rajkumar, Professor of ECE and Co-Director of the GM-Carnegie Mellon Collaborative Research Lab (GM-CM CRL), led the systems engineering group for the project and was a member of the steering board for the Tartan Racing consortium. Senior Systems Scientist John Dolan led the behaviors team for the Urban Challenge. ECE Department Head T.E. (Ed) Schlesinger was also a member of the team.
The longstanding GM-CM CRL brought hardware integration and system engineering skills to the squad. The GM-CM CRL research takes on challenges that aim to transform the face of automotive technologies.
Boss, a robotized 2007 Chevy Tahoe, completed the course, operating in a safe and stable manner, following California driving laws as it navigated the driverless challenge.
Surprisingly, many of the robots made good decisions, said DARPA Director Tony Tether. He explained that meant speed became the determining factor and Boss was the fastest of the competitors by a large margin. Boss averaged about 14 miles an hour over approximately 55 miles, finishing the course about 20 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Stanford.
"Robots sometimes stun the world, inspire a lot of people and change the belief of what is possible," said Whittaker. "We've seen that here and once the perception of what's possible changes it never goes back. This is a phenomenal thing for robotics."
Showing the world that autonomous driving technologies are robust and will ultimately make driving safer and more enjoyable has been a major goal of the Tartan Racing team.
"This is really a fantastic accomplishment," added Tether. "I watched these things driving and I forgot after awhile that there was nobody in there."
Tether also added that autonomous driving technology will save lives on the battlefield by removing soldiers from supply convoys and other vehicles in harm's way.
In addition to GM, Caterpillar and Continental AG, Tartan Racing's sponsors include Intel, Google, Applanix, TeleAtlas, NetApp, Vector CANTech, Ibeo, Mobileye, HP, CarSim, CleanPower Resources, M/A-Com and McCabe Software.
Source: Carnegie Mellon News
Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto (left) receives an official Tartan Racing shirt from Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon at a campus celebration honoring the winners of the DARPA Urban Challenge.
Photography by Larry Rippel.