Team MIT invited to race its modified Land Rover in Urban Challenge 2007

Published 23 October 2007

Land Rover donated a modified Land Rover LR3 to MIT, and Team MIT has been invited to second qualifying round of DARPA Urban Challenge 2007; final will be held 3 November

Land Rover is teaming up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to compete in DARPA’s autonomous vehicle competition. The company has dpnated a Land Rover LR3 which has been built to be fully autonomous so it can participate in the forthcoming 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. MIT has modified the LR3, a vehicle already equipped with a lot of technology, so that without human driver or remote control it can drive itself and perform simple tasks such as avoiding obstacles and merging into moving traffic. The LR3 uses state-of-the-art hardware to view the environment and track its own motion while driving on major roads or moving through cities. It is equipped with LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) range finders with vision sensors in order to view the environment, helping it avoid obstacles which might get in its way. In order to track its progress along the roads, the vehicle uses a combination of GPS (Global Positioning System) and INS (Inertial Navigation System). With all this technology, the vehicle can locate itself within half of a meter anywhere in the world, allowing it to stay on road at all times.

The DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Urban Challenge is an annual competition in which several autonomous vehicles compete against each other in several different rounds. After successfully completing the qualifying round in early August, Team MIT and the LR3 have been invited back to compete in the challenging semi-final round taking place on 26-31 October, with the goal of making it to the final competition. The DARPA Urban Challenge final event will be held in Victorville, California on 3 November, 2007. During the competition, the vehicles will need to travel through a sixty-mile mock city course within six hours, and will be challenged with tasks while completing a stipulated route. Some of these tasks include executing simulated supply missions while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections and avoiding various obstacles - all without a driver or via remote control.