SALT LAKE CITY, 18 Jan. 2007. The Center for Autonomous Vehicle Applied Technology and Information (CAVÀTI) has donated autonomous ground vehicles (AGVs) to two different Utah teams competing in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge 2007.
A team from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and another from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City each received a 2005 Dodge Caravan (blue and red, respectively) retrofitted with a Pronto4 Universal Unmanned Vehicle Retrofit Kit from Kairos Autonomi, a CAVÀTI founding member. CAVÀTI also donated funds to each university to support software development and the acquisition and integration of sensors for vehicle navigation systems.
Both university teams will compete in the Urban Challenge 2007, which will feature AGVs conducting simulated military supply missions in a mock urban area. Safe operation in traffic is essential to U.S. military plans to use AGVs to conduct important missions.
Using only software and sensors, the retrofitted minivans will attempt to navigate the urban area in unmanned, autonomous mode. The vehicles will be required to autonomously obey traffic laws while merging into moving traffic, negotiate busy intersections and avoid other vehicles, buildings, and barriers.
"This donation fits perfectly with our mission to move forward unmanned vehicle technology by leveraging industry assets with university resources," says George "Troy" Takach, Jr., founding member of CAVÀTI.
Donating the vehicles is one part of the State of Utah Unmanned, Autonomous Road Map (SWARM), a CAVÀTI initiative designed to foster unmanned systems collaboration among organizations in Utah.
Within SWARM, four primary objectives exist to increase unmanned systems business in Utah: bring autonomous vehicle contracts to Utah companies for execution; create a nationally recognized unmanned vehicle test facility; promote legislative initiatives to support AGV business and technology; and foster autonomous systems research through Utah universities.