Tommy Jr. Getting Ready for the DARPA Urban Challenge


If you were at the 2006 JavaOne Conference, you may recall seeing a strang looking, silver, egg-shaped vehicle.

That was Tommy, Team Jefferson's autonomous vehicle created for the DARPA Grand Challange - Powered by Java, of course. You can see Paul Perone's (of Perone Robotics) presentation on Tommy and the technology behind it.

Fast forward to 2007 & the DARPA Grand Challenge is now the Urban Challenge -- featuring autonomous ground vehicles maneuvering in a mock city environment, executing simulated military supply missions while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections, and avoiding obstacles.

Comprised of University of Virginia Engineering School students, alumni and faculty and lead by U. Va. alumni Paul Perone, Team Jefferson is once again preparing for the challenge.

With Tommy in retirement, the team has created Tommy Jr - a tricked out robotic Scion xB, for the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. In August, DARPA announced that Tommy Jr is one of 36 teams advancing to the semi-finals. The final, competitive event is scheduled to take place on November 3, 2007, in Victorville, California.

The reward?? DARPA is offering $2M for the fastest qualifying vehicle, and $1M and $500,000 for second and third place.

Team Jefferson recently released a new video on Tommy Jr. This video shows some footage of Tommy Jr during his DARPA Urban Challenge site visit performing passing, intersection handling, and U-turn maneuvers.

We'll hear more on Tommy Jr as the Challenge gets closer.



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