Student team semifinalist in national competition

Published: May 31, 2007 10:56:30 AM
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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently announced that the SciAutonics/Auburn Engineering team will be among the semifinalists for DARPA's Urban Challenge. Only 53 of the competition's original 89 teams moved on to the next phase of the competition. The team is led by Robert Daily, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"The involvement and dedication our students have shown is something the Auburn family should be proud of," stated Dave Bevly, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory (GAVLAB) at Auburn University. "To be a part of a project that could potentially improve the military's capability to save lives is an incredible opportunity for these students."

DARPA is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. DARPA's Urban Challenge is designed to cultivate the advancement of automated robotic ground vehicle technology. The competition, to be held on Nov. 3, will require the autonomous ground vehicle of each team to successfully perform simulated military supply missions in an urban setting? There will be a $2 million, $1 million and $500,000 award given to the top three teams who finish the course within the six-hour time frame.

Site visit tests will be conducted at each team location by DARPA personnel during the month of June. The tests will include an evaluation of the vehicle's ability to navigate a test course with a four-way intersection and moving traffic. Additionally, the test will assess the abilities of the team's robot to merge into moving traffic, plot a course in traffic circles, negotiate busy intersections and evade obstacles. The results of the site visits will determine which of the top 30 teams will move on the national qualification event, set for Oct. 21-31.

"While all the teams have put a lot of hard work in to their vehicles, many of these teams have extensive sponsorship participation," Bevly said. "We're hoping that our continued success with this program will encourage other sponsors to get involved and help us bring the Auburn vehicle to the top of the list."

GAVLAB is involved in numerous other research projects and competitions that focus on the control and navigation of vehicles using GPS in combination with varying sensors. For more information, visit their website at