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Team Mojavaton Xterra 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge

Automotive Customizers is proud to sponsor Team Mojavaton's Xterra in the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge.

Team Mojavaton made it to the finals! We are very proud of the effort the team made and how far they came. Although they did not win, they made an honorable showing. Congratulations to a very classy team!

Team Mojavaton (mo-HAH-va-tawn) is Colorado's entry in the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. In 2001, Congress set a goal that by the year 2015, one-third of military combat ground vehicles must be capable of driving themselves autonomously. In other words, only on-board computer control without any human input or assistance is used. Unlike the Mars Pathfinder and Predator Drone that transmit video back to a screen at some remote location and a human then decides what to do, autonomous vehicles must possess all of the sensory and intelligence capability to make their own decisions. The motivation for this Congressional action was simple - to save soldiers' lives.

The means to achieve this goal does not yet exist. There are many technologies that can contribute to such a project, but to date, no one has successfully integrated all the necessary systems in a way that would fulfill the requirements. The Grand Challenge is a contest for autonomous ground vehicles that was created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a division of the Department of Defense, to encourage innovation and "outside the box thinking" in pursuit of this goal.

We are outfitting a Nissan Xterra (dubbed the "Xboxx") with navigation and sensor systems to be able to successfully complete this 150 to 175 mile course through the California/Nevada desert using only its on-board computerized systems. No human will be in the vehicle during the race (on board animals are also prohibited). No signals may be transmitted from the vehicle. The team may not provide any control or information to the vehicle once it departs the starting line. Each team's vehicle will be followed through the course by a pickup truck containing a DARPA official to watch the vehicle and assure the safety of the event. Each official will have a wireless emergency stop transmitter capable of stopping the autonomous vehicle if necessary for safety reasons.

As of June 6th, we are one of 40 teams competing for the 20 available spots in the Grand Challenge 2005, so the competition to get into the race will be very tough. If we are successful, we will be one of the 20 to race, faced with a daunting course containing potholes, washboard roads, sheer drop-offs, a variety of rocks and boulders, man-made obstacles including tank traps, and of course, the other 19 driverless vehicles. We can hardly wait.

The Xterra is equipped with a 3" suspension lift kit, complete set of skid plates, 32" Big "O" off road tires, ARB bull bar, Gibson cat-back exhaust, Cold air intake system and PIAA driving lights.

While they can't give away all the details, just yet, we can say that the Xterra has 12 VDC, 24 VDC, and 110 VAC power. It also has a high speed ethernet system on board. The computer is a General Technics industrial rack mount computer featuring twin 2.8 Gigahertz Xeon microprocessors.

Congratulations to Team Mojavaton for all of their hard work and ingenuity. We hope to see you in the finals.

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