Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Small summary of what DARPA's Urban Challenge entails

The Technical Evaluation criteria lists the following items as part of what an autonomous vehicle involved in DARPA Urban Challenge race should be able to handle and how to handle it during the race and in some of the pre-qualifying stages:

A. Basic Navigation
  • A. 1Preparation for run
  • A.2 Mission start
  • A.3. Checkpoints
  • A.4. Stay in lane
  • A.5. Speed limits
  • A.6. Excess delay
  • A.7. Collisions
  • A.8. Stop line
  • A.9. Vehicle Separation
  • A.10. Leaving lane to pass
  • A.11. Returning to lane after pass
  • A.12. U-turn
B. Basic Traffic
  • B.1. Basic Navigation
  • B.2. Intersection precedence
  • B.3. Minimum following distance
  • B.4. Queueing
C. Advanced Navigation
  • C.1. Basic Traffic
  • C.2. Obstacle field
  • C.3. Parking lot
  • C.4. Dynamic re-planning
  • C.5. Road following
  • C.6. GPS outage
D. Advanced Traffic
  • D.1. Advanced Navigation
  • D.2. Merge
  • D.3. Vehicle separation during merge
  • D.4. Left turn
  • D.5. Vehicle separation during left turn
  • D.6. Zones
  • D.7. Emergency braking
  • D.8. Defensive driving
  • D.9. Traffic jam

The current rules are here. The site visit is scheduled to occur in San Antonio. The RNDF file describes the road to the vehicle. The MDF is the file that describes what is expected from the vehicle for its mission. There is no mention in the MDF of potential obstacles, traffic or GPS outage (as generally seen in cities with large buildings like Paris or New-York, a phenomenon called the canyon effect). The expectation is for the autonomous vehicle to follow the rules to get out these unexpected problems and accomplish its mission within the alloted time. DARPA decides on May 10th which team to invite at the Site visits.

Technical Note: A parser for the RNDF and MDF can be found here.

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