Driverless Cars 1: The Grand Challenge

StartUp Podcast


In 2004, the U.S. government held a race unlike anything that had come before it. It was called the DARPA Grand Challenge, and it followed a 150-mile route through the rugged Mojave Desert. The participants were cars, trucks, ATVs, and one motorcycle. The catch? Each vehicle was required to drive itself--no remote control, no human intervention. Dozens of engineers and robot enthusiasts worked relentlessly to make it happen. The Carnegie Mellon team was a favorite, but every team faced hurdles--from smashed sensors and exploding toilets to poorly placed tumbleweeds. Was the Grand Challenge too grand for its time?