Today, the Stanford University DARPA team is announcing that its entry car for the 2007 Urban DARPA challenge is powered by low-power Core 2 Quad chips.
The DARPA Challenge, we're sure you'll know, is the challenge to get an unmanned vehicle across a course in the desert. The Urban challenge is a variation, taking place in a city environment.
The Stanford car is running Core 2 Duo and Quad processors, and this is notable for one reason - this year, it's the only car that doesn't require a secondary power source. Since the Core 2 processors are so low power, they can run off the car's alternator - a big advantage.
David Orenstein, one of Standford's engineering chaps, wrote thusly:
"“In the last Grand Challenge, it didn’t really matter whether an obstacle was a rock or a bush because either way you’d just drive around it,” says Sebastian Thrun, an associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering. “The current challenge is to move from just sensing the environment to understanding the environment.”
That’s because in the Urban Challenge, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the competing robots will have to accomplish missions in a simulated city environment, which includes the traffic of the other robots and traffic laws. This means that on race day, Nov. 2, the robots not only will have to avoid collisions, but also they will have to master concepts that befuddle many humans, such as right of way."
The finish line is a way off, since the competition doesn't start until November. But you can bet that the Intel and Stanford guys are going to be working pretty hard until then to make this work.
Let us know your thoughts on the DARPA Urban Challenge over in the forums.