The kids from UC Berkeley have emerged from their underground laboratory, la "Real Genius," with a robotic motorcycle called the Ghostrider (clever, the slide-rule set). The riderless bike was picked to run in this year's DARPA Grand Challenge, an annual test of autonomous vehicle technology in the form of a race through the California / Nevada desert. Participants' vehicles range from two-wheelers (e.g., this one) to military-grade transporters, though last year's event resulted in a techno stalemate worthy of its own Law of Malfunctioning Junk. This year, the UCB team hopes for a more favorable outcome. They hooked a Byzantine collection of interconnected e-spaghetti to the bike, including gyro-mounted cameras to avoid obstacles, a color vision system to find a route and follow it, and Y2K-grade coding to get all the hardware to talk to each other (check out the videos on the team's site). The DARPA prize is $2 million, plus the possibility of scoring enough primo Pentagon Pork to keep the team in Treos and Ramen noodles for the next 1,000 years.
The riderless motorcycle [We Make Money Not Art]