The Wannabe Venture Capitalist

Monday, October 10, 2005

DARPA Grand Challenge

In a follow up to the piece I wrote a couple of days ago about AI I had to mention the DARPA Grand Challenge. The competition, completed on Saturday, October 8th, was designed to accelerate research and development in autonomous ground vehicles to help save American lives on the battlefield. The Stanford team's entry, Stanley (below), won the contest and was sponsored by chip giant Intel and VC powerhouse Mohr Davidow Ventures.

To sum up the event I will quote the same New York Times lines that SiliconBeat did:

The Stanford scientists who led the 18-month effort to build Stanley said they saw their victory as a significant leap forward in the field of artificial intelligence, a discipline that has long suffered from big promises that did not pan out.

"This is for people who say, 'Cars can't drive themselves,' " said Sebastian Thrun, the director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-leader of the Stanford team. "These are the same people who said the Wright brothers wouldn't fly."

Congrats to the Stanford team for their amazing accomplishment. To win a grueling 132 mile race through the Nevada desert and be one of only 5 finishers out of 23 entries is truly something nevermind the fact that the car drove itself! The Stanford team walks away with a well deserved $2mm prize for their advances in AI technology.


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