2007 Urban Challenge

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Urban Challenge Information Session

Sunday, 21 May 2006 @ 4 pm -- 102 Steele

Slides (pdf) Interest Sheet (pdf)

Competition Description

The 2007 Urban Challenge is an autonomous vehicle competition that will take place on 3 November 2007, sponsored by DARPA. The competition will involve 60 miles of autonomous driving in which a vehicle must:



Parking lot.jpg
Traffic circle.jpg

  • Operate on city streets, obeying lane markings and traffic rules, including operation around sharp turns, through intersections, and while passing.
  • Exhibit safe-following behavior when approaching other vehicles from behind in a traffic lane, including maintaining a safe-following distance.
  • Exhibit safe check-and-go behavior when pulling around a stopped vehicle, pulling out of parking spot, moving through intersections, and in situations where collision is possible.
  • Stay on the road and in a legal and appropriate travel lane while en route, including around sharp turns, through intersections, and while passing.
  • Navigate safely in areas where GPS signals are partially or entirely blocked, including following paved and unpaved roads and stay in lane with very sparse or low accuracy GPS waypoints.
  • Navigate toward a destination in a large, open area where minimal or no GPS points are provided, as in loading dock areas or parking lots. These areas may contain fixed obstacles such as parked vehicles and moving obstacles including other vehicles.
  • Safely pull into and back out of a specified parking space in a parking lot.
  • Safely execute one or more three-point turning maneuvers to effect a U-turn.
  • Dynamically re-plan and execute the route to a destination if the primary route is blocked or impassable.

All operations must be fully autonomous (no human intervention allowed).

The vehicle completing the course in the fastest time under 6 hours will win a $2M grand prize ($500K for second, $250K for third).

More information on the 2007 Urban Challenge is available at the official DARPA web site.

Team Caltech


Caltech is planning to enter the competition with a student-oriented team consisting of undergraduates and graduate students, working with faculty, postdocs and industry partners. We plan to build on our experience in the 2004 and 2005 DARPA Grand Challenges, in which Caltech succeeded in reaching the race. We will initially make use of our existing autonomous vehicle platform, Alice (right).

Undergraduates: Undergraduates interested in participating as a member of Team Caltech can receive course credit through CS/EE/ME 75 - Multi-Disciplinary Systems Engineering during the 2006-07 academic year and can apply for a SURF project in summer 2007 to be a member of the race team.

Graduate students: Graduate students who wish to participate in the urban challenge can receive course credit or participate as part of their research activities (with approval of thesis supervisor). Financial support for participating grad students may be available, but is not guaranteed.

Volunteers: Volunteers work with students in design, implementation and testing of our vehicle. This can range from participating in design reviews, to advising and assisting with implementation, to helping provide transportation and meals. Members of the Caltech community (including alumni) who wish to volunteer to participate as members of Team Caltech should contact Richard Murray.

If you are a member of the Caltech community and you wish to participate in Team Caltech, please fill out an interest sheet and turn in to 109 Steele by 24 May (Wed).