DARPA Grand Challenge

I was delighted to read that at least three teams had gotten to the end of the DARPA Grand Challenge, which saw autonomously-driven cars run along a 211km course – which, importantly, they didn’t know in advance. And yet what spin does BBC News put on it? They say that the technology will be used for the war in Iraq and Afganistan.

Now, it probably will be used for that, and I bet the US military is overjoyed about this. But the wider implications are much more important than self-driven trucks in Iraq; while I know that this doesn’t mean we’ll see self-driven cars on the motorway any time soon, it does mean that it *will* happen, and that it *can* happen, and that it won’t even be that expensive or difficult either. Not just self-driven cars, either – self-driven *everything*. Dear bog, the possibilities are incredible; I can see the entire transport network being totally transformed in just a few decades.

I’m not normally one to go off on the Iraq war, but now it’s really pissing me off in hijacking any useful discussion of new technology.

3 Replies to “DARPA Grand Challenge”

  1. I don’t think that you can really blame the BBC when the event was organised by a military research agency for the purpose of pushing researh into automatic military vehicles. They didn’t put a ‘spin’ on the event, the event always had that context. Like it or not many leaps in technology are derived from military projects and that is where this technology would be first used, well in advance of civilian purposes.

  2. Oh, I don’t deny that, especially with the military’s autonomous vehicles mandate. But the BBC normally shows more imagination than this. When DARPA founded the internet as a nuclear-proof computer network, no-one really knew what it would turn into, and I wouldn’t expect the BBC to write about it. But with the Grand Challenge, the implications are more obvious, and yet they are relegated to a few words at the end.

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