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Great Robot Race, The

Viewing Ideas

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Before Watching

  1. The DARPA Grand Challenge involves building an autonomous ground vehicle that will race across 212 kilometers of unpaved roads in Nevada's Mojave Desert. Discuss what an autonomous vehicle is and have students brainstorm and predict some of the challenges the vehicles might face. (An autonomous vehicle can perform tasks by itself for an extended period of time. The major challenge is to detect and stay on the road while avoiding obstacles that could disable the vehicle.)

  2. Organize the class into four groups and assign each group one of the following teams to track: Carnegie Mellon University (Red Team), Bruce and Dave Hall (Team Digital Audio Drive), Anthony Levandowski (Ghostrider), or Stanford University (Stanley). Have groups take notes on each team's members, hardware and software strategies, and resources.


After Watching

  1. Have students who took notes on the same team meet, compare their notes, and present what they learned to the class. How did the teams compare in terms of size, number, and makeup? What hardware choices did each team make? How did each team program its software? What were the similarities and differences among the strategies? What were the main reasons for each team's success or failure?

  2. Have students consider future use of autonomous vehicles. What technical hurdles need to be overcome for these robots to work? What are some potential uses for these robots? What kind of changes, if any, would be needed to accommodate new robot uses, i.e., would new highways need to be built, or new laws formulated, for cars that drove themselves?

Teacher's Guide
Great Robot Race, The
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