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"And the stars are projectors, yeah, projecting our lives down to this planet Earth." - Modest Mouse


3.14.2004

Fall of the Robots 

DARPA's dreams of unmanned robotic military vehicles swarming into battlefields will remain but a fantasy for the foreseeable future.
Officials foresee using computer-run, remote control-free robots to ferry supplies in war zones.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency spent $13 million on the Grand Challenge. It estimates competitors laid out a total of four to five times that amount developing their entries, which rely on global positioning satellites as well as a variety of sensors, lasers, radar and cameras to orient themselves and detect and avoid obstacles.
But sadly, all 15 entrants in the 150-mile Grand Challenge enduro race have crapped out within the first few miles of the starting line.
Most of the vehicles Saturday made it less than a mile before stalling, overturning or running off course. One six-wheeled robot built by a Louisiana team was disqualified after it became entangled in barbed wire. Others crashed seconds after starting.
It seems that the glorious future of soulless machines ruling the planet will have to wait a little longer.

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