Who needs drivers?

Four robotic vehicles succeeded in completing the Grand Challenge race at the weekend in the Mojave Desert in Nevada. The winning team from Stanford University took home a prize of $2m. The odd thing about the 150 mile race was that none of the 23 competing vehicles had a driver. The competition was run by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a division of the Pentagon, in order to see how much can be achieved without humans being directly involved. The long term goal of this is to build military vehicles which do not put people at risk, similar to the drones and missiles of modern aerial warfare.

The vehicles were fitted with different systems including global positioning satellite technology, cameras, infrared sensors and lasers to guide them across the tough desert terrain. But all human control was banned.

There were 195 competitors in the competition but only 23 got to the final and four to the finish. They had 10 hours to complete the race, which included a obstacle course. The route was a secret until a couple of hours before the race began.

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