DARPA, the R&D guys at the Department of Defense, came up with a competition last year called the Grand Challenge. The goal is deceptively simple, a driverless, autonomous vehicle must complete a 150 mile desert course in less than 10 hours. If you are quickest across the line, you get $2 million dollars. Last year, no one made it beyond 8 miles. Well, they’re doing it again on October 8th, only this time, among the many four and six wheelers, is Ghostrider, a riderless motorcycle.
Ghostrider is the entry from the University of California, Berkeley’s Engineering Department as well as a few folks from Texas A&M. This is one bright bunch of engineers. Videos on their site show Ghostrider cruising along through trees and over jumps and generally doing your basic motorcycle thing sans rider.
The other day when I posted Bob Lutz’s talk about automated cars where he said he would always have a motorcycle to get away from the total automated experience, he probably wasn’t thinking about this possibility. File this under interesting. I’ll be very curious to see how it does in the actual race.