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DARPA Urban Challenge 2007

Goals

The Urban Challenge was a competition of autonomous vehicles operating in a complex urban traffic scenario. It was designed to test the possibilities of driverless vehicles in urban traffic. Thereto, the vehicles had to be able to drive on urban roads, to evade obstacles, to obey traffic rules, to park, to turn, and to drive in unstructured areas, i. e. areas without lane markings.

Schedule and Competition

urban challenge The competition was held in 2007 in the US. It consisted out of a qualification event, semifinals, and finals. During the qualification events (so-called site visits) the teams had to show that their vehicles are able to drive safely in autonomous mode and that they can obey traffic rules. In the semifinals the vehicles had to drive on a simplified road network interacting with other vehicles at the intersections.

During the finals the autonomous vehicles had to drive through a complex road network interacting with other autonomous vehicles as well as with vehicles driven manually by stunt men. A road map was provided by the organizers, however, the vehicles had to plan their path' by themselves.

Among all teams interested in participating at the Urban Challenge only a subset of 53 teams qualified for the site visits, 36 qualified for the semi finals and only 11 teams finished the semi finals successfully. Only two non-US teams reached the finals (team carOLO and our team AnnieWAY).

Our Participation

Participating at the Urban Challenge was the occasion to build team AnnieWAY as a mixed team of the technical universities of Karlsruhe and Munich within the collaborative research center SFB/TR28 cognitive automobiles. To allow for efficient preparation we shipped our autonomous vehicle to the US. Members of our team were spending month' in the US developing the software and testing the vehicle.

However, our commitment was rewarded by passing the site visits and the semi finals so that we became one of only 11 finalists. During the finals, our vehicle started successfully. However, an undetected software bug made the program run into an endless loop so that it could not finish the competition. Despite this shortcoming we were very happy about our success concerning the technical implementation as well as our scientific contribution.

Find a description of our approach at the Urban Challenge in our survey paper which appeared in the Journal of Field Robotics.