Unmanned Vehicle (DARPA Challenge)

The Cajunbot team of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, LA, USA participates in a $1million DARPA contest: an unmanned vehicle race from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Thanks to Xsens Technologies' MT9 Inertial Measurement Unit, the vehicle's laser sensor is stabilized, and the vehicle's high-grade navigation system has a backup system.

Twenty five teams from across the USA will compete on March 13, 2004 in the Grand Challenge, a contest sponsored by the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA), an arm of the Defense Department for a $1 million prize. The first to complete the race from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, roughly 200 miles of dessert in less than 10 hours without a driver or remote control wins the $1 million prize. Each team is to prepare a vehicle that can navigate a designated route using GPS signals for direction and laser sensors which detect upcoming obstacles. Using artificial intelligence, each vehicle will have to react to obstacles, passing over or round ditches, water, rocks, barbed wire and other vehicles along the path.

The Cajunbot team chose to integrate an MT9 Inertial Measurement Unit in the autonomous vehicle for two purposes: supply of redundant information to a higher grade Inertial Navigation System, and measurement of pitch and roll of the laser sensor. The MT9 measures amongst others 3D rate-of-turn and 3D accelerations, which information is provided to the navigation system, and software calculates pitch and roll, which is used to stabilize the vehicle's laser sensor. Professor Arun Lakhotia of the Cajunbot team explains the value of the MT9: "We mount the MT9 on the laser sensor, introduce a mechanism to tilt the sensor and use the MT9 to measure its angles. With its light weight, the MT9 is perfect for this application."

The CNN crew filmed and interview team Cajunbot because of its uniqueness and freshness to the contest.


University of Louisiana at Lafayette, LA, USA