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The DARPA Grand Challenge is a competition
for autonomous vehicles sponsored
by the Department of Defense.
The vehicles must be able to navigate a course
and avoid unexpected obstacles all without human interaction.
The 2007 competition will take place in an urban setting
with vehicles having to obey driving laws
and deal with traffic.
For the first time, MIT in collaboration
with Olin College and the Draper Laboratory
is entering the grand challenge.
MIT's entry uses a combination of lasers, cameras, and radar
to perceive its surroundings and detect obstacles.
Its software then uses the data from those sensors
to determine the safest way to proceed.
When the vehicle encounters an obstacle in the roadway,
the car stops, backs up, and examines its surroundings,
and then plots a new course to safely maneuver around
the obstacle.