DARPA Offroad Self Driving Races

DARPA’s Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency (RACER) program has had several off road races. Experiment 1 took place March-April 2022 on six courses of combat-relevant terrain. The teams did more than 40 autonomous runs of about 2 miles each and reached speeds just under 20 miles per hour. The biggest challenge the teams…
DARPA Offroad Self Driving Races


DARPA’s Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency (RACER) program has had several off road races.

Experiment 1 took place March-April 2022 on six courses of combat-relevant terrain. The teams did more than 40 autonomous runs of about 2 miles each and reached speeds just under 20 miles per hour. The biggest challenge the teams faced in that desert environment was the vehicles’ ability to identify, classify, and avoid obstacles at higher speeds. The terrain at Fort Irwin provided a number of obstacles (rocks, bushes, ditches, etc.) that were a combination of debilitating hazards (able to severely damage the vehicle) and non-debilitating impediments (limited ability to damage the vehicle)

“Since the first experiment, teams have been working to improve perception of the environment and planning navigable routes through development of new autonomy algorithm technologies,” said Stuart Young, RACER program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “The DARPA-provided RACER fleet vehicles being used in the program are high performance all-terrain vehicles outfitted with world-class sensing and computational abilities, but the teams’ focus is on computational solutions as that platform encounters increasingly complex off-road terrain.”

Experiment 2 will require teams to go beyond the environmental features found in the desert environment, which primarily tested their perception algorithms, to also incorporate new challenges. One of the new challenges will be larger and steeper hills. This will stress the ability of the robot vehicles to maintain control, particularly going down steep slopes, on slippery surfaces, and navigating ditches. The teams must also create longer range plans while driving through or around such varied obstacles in order to successfully navigate the courses.

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