It looks like DARPA's newly-instated Urban Challenge
is shaping up nicely, with this self-driving Isuzu SUV from Austin Robot Technology and the University of Texas now joining the likes of Team LUX's Volkswagen Passat
and NC State's Lotus Elise
in competing for the top prize. As with those other vehicles, the SUV (dubbed Marvin) is completely autonomous, relying on an array of sensors, video cameras, artificial intelligence, and machine-learning technology to (hopefully) avoid catastrophe as it motors about. As you might guess, the Urban Challenge presents a few different obstacles for the vehicles to deal with than the Grand Challenge does, including intersections, improperly parked cars, and traffic laws that must be followed at all times. Marvin still has a ways to go before it can get a chance to drive away a few million dollars richer, however, with it required to pass a basic driving test this summer and a national qualifier in October before it's allowed to enter the big event in November.
[Photo courtesy of Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman