Building the Best Driverless Robot Car

DARPA isn't just hosting a robot-car rally; it's driving the very future of high-tech R&D;

Robert Gallagher for TIME

The winner, Carnegie Mellon's Boss .

On a recent Saturday afternoon, on a desert road outside Los Angeles, a Land Rover ran into a Chevy Tahoe. Happily, nobody was hurt. That's because no one was in either car.

The collision--which was more of a love tap, since the Rover was going less than 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h)--took place in a very unusual road race on a dismantled Air Force base in Victorville, Calif. A few years ago, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon's blue-sky high-tech research wing that everyone calls DARPA, decided it was interested in developing robotic vehicles that could drive themselves: no remote...

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