Results tagged “Stanford” from kwc blog

CMU wins DARPA Urban Challenge

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The Boss (2) Junior VT - Odin - Third Place (3)

Urban Challenge Finals Photos

Winners of the DARPA Urban Challenge have been announced. Congratulations to CMU/Tartan Racing, which takes first place. Second place goes to Stanford and third to Virginia Tech.

Official results haven't been released yet, but CMU's adjusted time was about 20 minutes faster than Stanford and 40 minutes faster than Virginia Tech. Amazingly, none of the teams were penalized for traffic violations and CMU's averaged 14mph over the course.

Copy of IMG_3485 Copy of IMG_3471 VT - Odin - Third Place (4)

Back from the Urban Challenge

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We drove down to Victorville at 1am and back at 4pm -- needless to say the words are a bit blurry right now and the photos won't get uploaded until tomorrow. Many thanks to my coworker who is a much better no-sleep driver than I.

In eight hours we'll find out who the official Urban Challenge winner is. Right now I'm leaning towards CMU's Boss, though I want it to go to VT for doing so well with far less -- perhaps there should be handicaps based on $value of sensors used.

Stanford's Junior crossed the finish line first, but it barely had time to get off the finish line before Boss crossed. Virginia Tech's Odin was close behind. The fact that those three managed to finish the nearly six hour course within minutes of each other is a sign of how well each ran the course, but reports were that CMU's run was more flawless.

The actual finish time only served as a rough grouping -- Stanford, CMU, and VT were clearly best, UPenn ran a solid conservative approach in the middle, and Cornell and MIT were last (of the finishers). CMU several minutes after Stanford and VT, but I also witnessed Junior stuck behind Cornell's car for 20-or-so minutes and another 10-or-so minutes behind the MIT/Cornell crash. It will be up to the judges to tally up points and minutes and come up with an official score, which is a bit of a flaw in the design of the current challenge -- no one really understands what the scoring system is.

Any of the finishers can lay claim to an impressive feat, so it only with alma mater pride that I take a slight dig at Cornell. Cornell's SkyNet and MIT's Talos were the worst of the best, finishing almost two hours after the top three and forty-five minutes after UPenn's slow-and-steady Little Ben. They seemed doomed to scrap it out after Talos attempted to pass SkyNet and ended up getting rammed -- the teams had to carefully pry the interlocked sensors apart.

It seemed that Cornell had the upper hand over MIT as SkyNet made it to the final traffic circle first. Then it stopped. And sat for minutes. With the finish line in sight. Talos pulled up and turned onto the finishing straight. SkyNet seemed to sense its loss as it promptly unstuck and crossed the finish line last.

DARPA Urban Challenge: 11 enter, 1 leaves

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The 11 finalists for the Urban Challenge have been announced: CMU, Stanford, Virginia Tech, MIT, Cornell, UPenn, UCF, AnnieWay, Intelligent Vehicle Systems, CarOLO, and OshKosh. Up to 20 were to be allowed, but DARPA decided that there weren't 20 vehicles that were safe enough to compete in the finals.

The finale will be a 6-hour, 60 mile race. It sounds like this will be the first time that the vehicles will be put on the same course as one another. If it's going to be a demolition derby, Team OshKosh will be able to roll over the competition. DARPA chief Tony Tether has tapped CMU's Boss as the best overall performing thus far and OshKosh as the best on the Course A left-turn-merge course.

DARPA Urban Challenge quals

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I flew down to Victorville for the day to watch Wednesday's qualifiers. It probably wasn't the best day to visit as the good teams had already qualified -- CMU, Stanford, Cornell, UPenn, Virginia Tech, and CarOLO -- and the really bad teams (i.e. crash-worthy) had already been disqualified. What were left were the teams that, while not dangerous, didn't have all the bugs shaken out, which meant a lot of delays. In the six hours that I was there, I only saw one run, which occurred after about an hour of delays. The run was by Team Gray on the 'C' course, which seemed to go well enough for three laps before some sort of incident required the team to jump in the golf cart and go service the stopped vehicle. I also saw the comically large OshKosh vehicle get stuck trying to navigate its way to the B course.

The highlight was going through the team pits and getting to peak in everyone's cars. Team Gray's was one of my favorite cars because they've compartmentalized their processing to a small blue box with dual Pentium Ms, which stands in stark contrast the the 10-20 rack Core2Duo units that several other teams are using. MIT's and CMU's cars were covered with every sensor known to man. Hopefully I'll have time to post some photos soon.

Some of my co-workers got to see Stanford's smooth A course run, which was brought to an early close due to its great execution. Apparently it took them two tries to pass the course -- their theory was that DARPA's radios were causing interference with the velodyne. They also saw Caltech's A course run, which was dangerously amusing: the van ran the wrong way on the course, to the terror of the DARPA stunt drivers.

DARPA has hundreds of Ford Taurus' for the event. The cars are pretty cool -- the interiors have been replaced with a roll cage and bucket race seat, and many appear to have wireless cameras attached to the roof. You could easily shoot a Hollywood movie using the Urban Challenge as a backdrop: abandoned, decrepit military housing with identical DARPA vehicles parked in the driveways as robotic cars creep around: a utopian universe gone awry.

Watching USC clobber Stanford 42-0

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USC slipped to #9 last week after their loss to Oregon State. This ruined their undefeated record and has all but dashed their hopes of a national championship. Having watched them all season, it was bound to happen; they haven't been in national championship form all season (some still are trying to conceive of national-championship scenarios for USC). But that doesn't mean it wasn't nice to know that they would next face Stanford. What better team to lift one's spirits than the 0-8 Cardinal. Navy clobbered Stanford this season. I've watched Navy football my whole life, but I had never seen them roll over a team like they did Stanford. If Stanford can make Navy look like national champions... Stanford is also a great opponent because you can walk into their stadium with a "Beat Stanford" pin and be in the majority. I gave away a ticket to a group of Stanford fans who thanked me by saying that they were happy to help improve our national championship hopes.

My parents were in town for the USC vs. Stanford game and we had a great time. Our seats were front row on the goal line: I enjoyed seeing QB Mark Sanchez's dive for his first college touchdown for USC; my mom enjoyed the baton twirlers, marching band, and cheerleaders. My parents also got some education in USC marching band songs -- the V-for-victory hand sign, "U... C... L... A... sucks". I especially liked the addition of "Snakes on a Plane" to their usual playlist.

Stanford didn't stand a chance. Three second-quarter TDs put USC up 28-0 at half. Hoping to at least put at least 3 points on the board, Stanford managed to drive within field goal range in the 3rd quarter. Instead of erasing the shutout, USC blocked the field goal and ran it back for a touchdown. It was a well-coached block: after Sedrick Ellis blocked the kick, Terrell Thomas ran over to pickup the ball while the rest of the team was already running down field to setup blocks; Thomas was able to run behind a sea of USC players all the way for the TD.

USC 42, Stanford 0

Navy beats Stanford

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It was fun watching crush Stanford at the grand opening of the brand new Stanford Stadium. From the way the event was run (right down to the final score) you would think it was the opening of a new Navy stadium. The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band and its Dollies were on suspension for sledgehammering and spray painting the Band Shak, so the Stanford side of the football field was oddly... professional, as there was just the Stanford cheerleaders performing. The entertainment for the game -- both off the field and on the field -- had to be provided by Navy instead. The game started off with people parachuting in and F-18s flying over, Navy beat up Stanford in the first half, the half-time show was performed by the Navy Drum and Bugle Corp, the F-18 pilots were given a large round of applause during at the end of the halftime show, and the Navy continued their trouncing of Stanford in the second half of the game.

Some other observations: * Be careful what you hand out in the stadium. We had cards taped to our seat that we were supposed to hold up at half-time to make an American flag. Most people obliged there, but as the Stanford football team continued to provide misery to its fans, the fans resorted to making paper airplanes out of the cards. I moved down to the lower deck for the second half and there was a constant stream of paper airplanes hitting the empty chairs around me or landing on the field itself. * The new stadium reminds me a bit of PacBell Park (or whatever its called now). The main concourse has good sightlines to the action on the field and there are new HP LCD monitors showing the game, though the picture on the HP monitors makes them look like crappy products. There's even a flat area at one end of the stadium with grass and arches where kids can run around. It is impressive what they did in such a short period of time. To prove they really did rebuild the entire stadium in 8 months from scratch, they showed a time-lapse film of the old stadium being carved down to dirt and then reborn. * The F-18 pilots were rock stars. This was odd for me, having spent so much time on Navy bases and never seen that sort of treatment. There were standing ovations where-ever the pilots walked and kids rushed up to the barriers to get autographs.

DARPA Grand Challenge on PBS

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NOVA aired a special called The Great Robot Race covering the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. If you missed it, PBS has been kind enough to post the entire program online -- sweet.

NOVA also has one of my favorite video podcasts. Recently, they've been airing amusing mini-programs from the DARPA Grand Challenge. Great stuff for people who short attention spans like me that want our stories in 2-3 minute chunks.

Previously: * Sebastian Thrun's talk on Winning the DARPA Grand Challenge * DARPA Grand Challenge link roundup

Talk: Winning the DARPA Grand Challenge

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I went to go see Sebastian Thrun speak at Stanford about his team's winning effort in the DARPA Grand Challenge. Thrun described the contest as how to stay on the road for a very long time. It was not a general path-finding problem: DARPA gives you the route with a corridor you have to follow, as well as speed limits you have to observe for various parts of the course. Of course, DARPA didn't give perfect data. He showed a video generated from the data of Stanley driving through the most dangerous part of the course: the switchbacks of Beer Bottle Pass with a cliff on one side. DARPA's corridor was overlaid on top of Stanley's sensor data and it was easy to see that much of DARPA's corridor was actually over the cliff.

During training many traffic cones were "frequent victims of computer glitches," but Team Stanley was called "Team Boring" by the cleanup crew for their lack of incidents. The actual challenge was described as getting the data at 4AM, getting Stanley to the starting line at 6AM, and then sitting around drinking beer for several hours. The big moment came when Stanley passed CMU's Highlander as the CMU and Stanford teams listened to race radio. Thrun narrated the exciting finish for us: "[The head of DARPA] is waving his flag as if the car could see it."

Thrun said that they won mostly through luck given how close four of the teams finished. The speed limits set by DARPA for the various parts of the course were too conservative, so the cars were running below their full potential. DARPA also decided to make the course fairly easy. Asked if CMU would have won had they not had engine problems, Thrun answered, "In all likelihood, yes." Also, Team ENSCO had a faster average course time but flatted on "something really big CMU left behind" (the CMU part may have been a joke). Thrun felt that Stanford had better software than CMU and on a tougher course Stanford would have the advantage.

In the future, Thrun wants to try driving 65mph on 280, parking in a garage, convoy driving, and driving assist. Part of his motivation is to reduce traffic deaths, which a driving assist system could help prevent. He also feels that a fully automated system would change society by allowing you to use your commute time productively -- you could even drive to your destination, get out, and then send your car to go park in a parking garage farther away. These are still looking far ahead. In response to someone asking what it would take to drive at human-controlled speeds, Thrun related it to asking the Wright brothers, "If you want to fly over the Atlantic, what's missing?"

Phew, USC beats Stanford

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USC 10  7  7  7 31
STA 7 21 0 0 28

09-25-04.usc-1.jpg

I love going to USC games. I haven't been to any home games, but their games at Stanford are great events. There are enough USC fans that it seems like a home game, and the USC marching band does performances both before and after the game to keep the USC fans entertained. You also have to like a team where even the head coach is playing catch during warm-up, and the football players come over the USC section to salute them.

Last time I saw USC play Stanford in person, USC stomped the Cardinal 49-17 (2002), and given that today's line was 22 points, I was expecting a similar experience as two years ago. Man was I wrong.

USC went up early, but Stanford picked away at the lead with a pass attack and good punt returns. USC also made its share of mistakes, including allowing an 82 yard touchdown on the final play of the first half on a run where Stanford was just trying to run out the clock. Even when USC forced fumbles, Stanford seemed to recovered (3-0). As the game went into halftime I was shocked to see Stanford up 28-17.

The second half was a different story. Reggie Bush seemed to wake up -- his punt returns looked like someone was hitting the spin button on Madden and his running game went from backwards to 5+ yards/carry. USC scored two touchdowns in the second half and could have scored three (they ran the clock out), and their offense gained control over the game.

It helped that Buddy Teevens seemed eager to coach Stanford out of the game. Despite having no evidence of a running game in the first half, Stanford kept going to the running game in a failed attempt to run some time off the clock. If he had stuck with the successful passing game, who knows, but instead Stanford kept going three and out, which gave USC plenty of time and opportunity to catch up.

Good day for USC

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Despite being ranked #2 in all major polls, USC was still ranked #3 by the BCS formula. Today everything was fixed up as Ohio State had the decency to lose to Michigan, and USC stomped UCLA. Mike Williams had nearly 200 yards as well as two TDs after the first quarter. The score says 47-22 final, but that seems too close for the actual game, which was 33-2 at the half (the two came from a blocked PAT). Oh, and Stanford lost to Cal.
USC 47, UCLA 22

USC Stomps Stanford

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It still doesn't make up for losing to Cal, but it still is nice to stomp all over a Pac-10 opponent. The Trojans were so far ahead (41-14 at half) that they even stuck in a backup quarterback with the name "Booty."

In related news, eight teams started undefeated this week. Only three survived (Oklahoma, Miama, Virginia Tech), with the most noticeable upset being Ohio State, which lost to number 22 Wisconsin.
USC 44, Stanford 14

Stanford Waterclock

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Took this photo of the water clock at Stanford yesterday:

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