DARPA racers fall short

Defense Advanced Projects Agency Web site

The Grand Challenge, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's public relations bonanza, turned out to be a technological bust, as none of the 21 teams made more than a few miles' headway in the $1 million, winner-take-all race.

The race, held this weekend, was designed to bring together scientific and engineering minds to build unmanned ground vehicles that could autonomously navigate a course from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

In Anaheim, Calif., last week at the DARPATech 2004 conference, DARPA director Anthony Tether and many of his colleagues were atwitter at the possibility of seeing one of the entrants cross the finish line. But none of the teams' creations made it even eight miles into the course, which was 250 to 300 miles long.

DARPA announced the race to a media blitz last year as a way to raise public awareness about robotics and autonomously navigated vehicles. Although the publicity has been good for DARPA

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