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Utah Company Enter Robot Race

Utah Company Enter Robot Race

Posted - Jan. 12, 2004 at 10:07 p.m.



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Ed Yeates reportingThe Department of Defense wants a robot that can travel 300 miles in ten hours, making its own decisions with NO human control.

So the Pentagon will have a robot race, and the winner will get $1 million, NO strings attached. A Utah team is getting ready to run.

Like some possessed vehicle out of a sci-fi movie, this ominous looking robot moves about deciding what it has to do with NO human driver.

This spin-off group from Utah State University called Autonomous Solutions is one of 25 finalists chosen out of 106 entrants to enter the race.

This is time for testing - to get the bugs out. In three months, Department of Defense judges will only allow the robot's inventors to push a button. From there the machine is on its own.

Mel Torrie/ Pres., Autonomous Solutions: "So it's going to have to detect the terrain from Barstow to Las Vegas and drive by itself."

Right now, navigator keeps up with walking speed. But come this March, it's going to have to travel upwards of 45 miles an hour in order to win the race.

Using spinning radar and lasers, global positioning satellites and special on board computers, Navigator as it's called, will scan for objects and hopefully make wise decisions.

At the speed the robots are traveling, machines may plummet off cliffs, hit trees, rocks or rollover into ravines.

Why such a race? Mel Torrie says the DOD is frustrated with technology curently in the pipeline, and is looking for new ideas.

Mel Torrie/ President, Autonomous Solutions: "So they're trying to inspire some creativity, some new ideas, and also bring some people out of the woodwork that maybe in their garages, that have some good ideas."

A $1 million prize is a pretty good incentive. In fact, the Utah group is already planning to enter next year's race with master treader here. Imagine what it will do in rough terrain!

The Logan group expects to compete very well in the race since they've already had experience building military robots.

In fact, they've just signed a contract to build some for security police in Israel.

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