Mar 29, 2006
Season 33 Episode 17
Twenty-three bizarre looking vehicles line up at the starting gate of the DARPA Grand Challenge with one thing in common: there’s nobody behind the wheel. Sponsored by the Pentagon’s research agency, this race for robotic, driverless vehicles has a $2 million prize. Its ultimate goal is to gather new ideas for the future of unmanned warfare. With names like Terramax, Highlander, Ghostrider, and Stanley, these vehicles are armed with cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence, laser-guided vision, GPS navigation, and 3-D mapping systems. But can some of the world's most advanced robots overcome a grueling, 130-mile stretch of Nevada's scorching desert terrain? NOVA follows the competing engineering teams as they deal with the glitches, system crashes, and tight deadlines that threaten to derail them at every turn. NOVA's cameras capture the race's technical challenges, hilarious pitfalls, and a final twist as a surprise contender comes up from behind to steal the race.