Additionally, the driverless automobiles will have to be able to merge on the highway with other vehicles, recognize stop lights and stop signs, as well as interact with the other driverless vehicles in the Urban Challenge.
So far, however, the location of the 2007 Urban Challenge that will take place in November has not yet been announced. The DARPA organization is waiting until all teams and automobiles have officially entered the race and passed authentication. Some major players and teams that are being represented in the DARPA Urban Challenge are GM, CMU, Volkswagen, Honeywell, Oshkosh, and Autonomous Solutions.
Some Universities that are being represented in this competition are Stanford, Caltech, Virginia Tech, MIT, and Cornell. There are also a cash prize that is going to be awarded to the top 3 finishers, which is to be used for development purposes for putting more design into the automobiles that win the Urban Challenge.
The Challenge will be no easy task, either. A driverless vehicle that has to obey all of the traffic laws in California seems like it would be a bit difficult to do, especially with the impromptu announcement of the route that the vehicles will travel.
The DARPA organization does not plan to release the route until a day before the race starts simply because that would probably give too much edge to the developers of the automobiles.
So why does DARPA host these competitions? The DARPA agency is an organization that is part of the United States' Department of Defense and their whole goal of the previous two Challenges that have been completed in 2004 and 2005, and the Urban Challenge in November of 2007, is to provide ideas for future research and development to help national security.
If driverless cars were so smart that they could be controlled by nothing else except for computers, the software and the GPS system, national security could take on a whole different outlook for the future.
Additionally, the competition provides information for huge auto manufacturers, like GM, that would like to start developing smarter cars that will actually be able to follow traffic laws. So in November of 2007 driverless automobile developers will have their chance to show their stuff and win a nationally recognized Urban Challenge.