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DARPA Grand Challenge Case Solution

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Artificial intelligence is based on simulating human thinking and thought pattern into machines. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is doing the same through its Grand Challenge in an effort to save lives through making one-third of ground military forces autonomous or driverless vehicles by 2015. In 2004, 2005 and 2007 the DARPA Grand Challenge was held with various scenarios that the driverless vehicles were expected to go through. The purpose of the challenge is to bring together the products and prospective clients for the products and to conduct trial runs to determine the feasibility of the idea. The United States military has given attention to safety and ground vehicles being driverless is an important area that is being explored. 

Following questions are answered in this case study solution

  1. Introduction

  2. Analysis

  3. Solution

  4. Justification

  5. Summary

Case Analysis for DARPA Grand Challenge

2. Analysis

Analyzing the Grand Challenges organized by DARPA is important to determine the viability of the idea and explore the future possibilities that it may bring to the area of military exercises. The mandate set forth by the Pentagon was that by 2015 one-third of the military driving force would be automated. The rationale behind this was to safeguard the lives of the American armed forces. Research and Development (R&D) is a major field, and innovative products are at the core so that more efficient and safe products can be brought into the market. 

Artificial intelligence enables mankind to simulate machines in a similar fashion based on human behaviors and thinking. The Grand Challenge presents various scenarios such as intersections, rugged terrain, etc. to be able to identify and challenge developers to further innovate and showcase top of the line driverless vehicles. In 2005, Stanley the Robot one the Grand Challenge in the Mojave Desert. The terrain was highly demanding. However, A Volkswagen Touareg managed to navigate through it with ease (Russell, 2006). 

The challenge itself isn't easy to enter into, and the government has strict guidelines and a very in-depth selection process. Teams are required to submit proposals detailing the technology used and participation in a series of qualification activities. This automatically enables it to eliminate the poor performers and only the best of the best are selected for the final challenge (Walker, 2006). 

DARPA’s efforts have also contributed towards a paradigm shifts in advancement in science and technology. DARPA has stood by its mission to encourage ground-breaking research and clarified that this is not a motive to create competition. They have been providing a platform for research teams and commercial organizations to team up so that the technology can be brought to market in the form of defense vehicles and perhaps later into the civilian market (Siciliano & Khatib, 2016). 

The event itself is being used to help bring about to technologies into the market and test them on such platforms. There is no doubt that this artificial intelligence is aimed at marking operations more efficient and improving lives and create an ideal platform to showcase technological innovation.

3. Solution

Autonomous operations can be put into use both at a military level and also at a commercial level. Civilians would not mind having a car that is safe and able to drive itself however several elements will need to be taken into consideration. There are five major blocks that autonomous driving goes through including mission planning, behavior generation, motion planning, perception & world modeling and lastly, mechatronics (Urmson, et al., 2007). Given the complexity of the planning and software required, it is evident that only the larger conglomerates who can afford such vehicles would be able to derive benefit out of them. 

The idea seems to have created a spur in the automated industry where several automobile manufacturers including BMW, Audi, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, and several others are already focusing on research and development in the area and are hoping to attract a record level of deals and funding. At the onset it would make sense for transport companies to start using these vehicles for e.g. Uber is already introducing its first self-driving fleet in Pittsburg in 2016. The company would provide customers with the option to summon self-driving cars from their phones, a technological breakthrough in the industry (Chafkin, 2016). 

From another perspective, businesses, through automated vehicles, will be able to save costs to a certain extent for e.g. drivers remuneration costs would be saved and human resources would be able to be used elsewhere. This will also enhance efficiency provided that the self-driving vehicles transporting products would be more efficient than manually driven ones. Safety is another important concern that needs to be kept in mind. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has already released a set of guidelines for these autonomous vehicles to ensure safety (Business Insider, 2016).

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