DARPA Grand Challenge: The Great Robot Race

The Great Robot Race
Driverless vehicles compete for a $2 million prize in a race across the Nevada desert

For the Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Expert Systems Higher Level topic, I have often enjoyed showing my students the PBS documentary The Great Robot Race. This covers the DARPA Grand Challenge, a 2005 race for autonomous vehicles through the Nevada desert (page 347 of my textbook describes this challenge in more detail). I was therefore really pleased to see that PBS have now released their documentary of the race for free, so all ITGS teachers and students can enjoy it. This is a slightly different edit of the video to that which was originally broadcast, with different commentary, but it still covers each of the main Grand Challenge teams, the preparation and qualification exercises, and of course the entire race.

I find it works well to have students complete exercise 16-11 in the textbook first, then watch the Great Robot Race video to assess how closely their predictions match reality. Completing the LEGO robots lesson before exercise 16-11 also helps students understand the challenges of creating autonomous vehicles.

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