US, India, and South Korea -- that "ve Germans are not all smiles and sunshine," the European powerhouse held its first Grand Challenge-like competition this week, where autonomous robots brought in from around the continent showed off their driving, surveillance, and urban warfare skillz. It's actually a bit misleading to call the first European Land Robot Trial (ELROB) -- which was hosted by the German army, or Bundeswehr. in the town of Hammelburg -- a competition, as participants were not eligible for any prizes or supply contracts, and even had to pay their own expenses, all in the hope that the 1,000-or-so venture capitalists and foreign military attaches on hand would take notice of their technology. Both amateur and professional roboticists entered their creations (which curiously, were required to house a small animal -- don't ask us) in one of two obstacle courses designed to simulate either combat driving or building infiltration -- tasks which were made even more difficult due to the fact that mission specifics were not revealed prior to the event. Although Germany has yet to even appropriate a portion of its budget to research in this area, military officials are optimistic that robotic support vehicles will be deployed to the armed forces within five years.
[Via Hindustan Times]