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Byron Spice
Anne Watzman

Carnegie Mellon's "Boss" Robot First To Qualify for DARPA Urban Challenge
Tartan Racing Team Making Final Preparations for Saturday's Race

VICTORVILLE, Calif. - Carnegie Mellon University's Tartan Racing team is making final preparations for Saturday's DARPA Urban Challenge after its robotic vehicle, Boss, became the first to qualify for the race, which features a $2 million first prize.

"Boss has been strong and steady during its qualifying runs. We're glad to be in, and getting the early call is an advantage," said William "Red" Whittaker, a Carnegie Mellon robotics professor and Tartan Racing team leader. "But being the first to qualify doesn't mean that Boss will be the best driver or first across the finish line on Saturday when it counts. So, we are reviewing every technical detail, every test run and strategy to keep this edge. Boss must deliver impeccable performance on race day."

Chris Urmson, director of technology, does not anticipate any major changes in the robot, however. "Boss is running almost perfectly, so we don't want to touch it if at all possible," he said. "Any testing we do from here on out will be done using our backup vehicle."

Late Tuesday, officials of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency had qualified five other teams: Stanford, Cornell, Ben Franklin (Penn), Victor Tango (Virginia Tech), and Team CarOLO from Germany. A dozen teams had been eliminated: Georgia Tech, Princeton, CalTech, Berlin, Ody-Era, SciAutonics, University of Utah, Mojavaton, Jefferson, Juggernaut, Gator Nation and Team Urbanator.

DARPA will choose as many as 20 teams to start Saturday's race, which will feature self-driving vehicles competing on a course that resembles urban and suburban streets and roads. The vehicles will cover about 60 miles while obeying the rules of the road, negotiating intersections and obstacles and interacting with traffic.

The 45-member Tartan Racing team includes Carnegie Mellon faculty, staff and students from the School of Computer Science's Robotics Institute, as well as Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering, and major support from General Motors, Caterpillar and Continental AG. These and other industrial sponsors are active parts of the team, with several of them embedding their engineers full-time with Tartan Racing. The result is a team that integrates the best talents of academia and industry.

Tartan Racing's Boss is a 2007 Chevy Tahoe that uses 19 sensors of six types to perceive its surroundings. Software running on 10 Intel Core2Duo blade computers uses the sensor input to build a model of Boss' environment and to choose an appropriate set of actions for each road and traffic situation.

In addition to GM, Caterpillar and Continental AG, Tartan Racing's sponsors include Intel, Google, Applanix, TeleAtlas, NetApp, Vector CANTech, Ibeo, Mobileye, HP, CarSim, CleanPower Resources, M/A-Com and McCabe Software.

For more on Tartan Racing, see For more on the Urban Challenge, visit
Team Contact: Michele Gittleman - 412-268-6556,

About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix of programs in engineering, computer science, robotics, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration, and innovation. A small student-to-faculty ratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students and professors. While technology is pervasive on its 144-acre campus, Carnegie Mellon is also distinctive among leading research universities for the world-renowned programs in its College of Fine Arts. For more, see