October 10, 2005

I for One...

...Will welcome our new robot overlords:

An unmanned vehicle has successfully navigated a forbidding 132-mile section of the Mojave Desert. The next stop for the technology may be Afghanistan or Iraq.

A souped-up VW Touareg, designed by Stanford University, zipped through the course in six hours and 53 minutes Sunday, using only its computer brain and sensors to navigate rough and twisting desert and mountain trails.

The robotic vehicles had to navigate a course designed to mimic driving conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan, including winding dirt trails and dry lake beds filled with overhanging brush. Parts of the route forced the robots to zip through three tunnels designed to knock out their GPS signals.

The race is part of the military's effort to fulfill a congressional mandate to cut casualties by having a third of the military's ground vehicles unmanned in 20 years.

The Stanford team -- which spent $500,000 on the race, some of which was provided by sponsors -- celebrated by popping champagne and pouring it over their mud-covered car called Stanley.

Sure this is how it starts. A cute little VW Touareg that can drive itself. The next thing you know we are all slaves and being used as batteries to power an entire robot civilization. All hail our new overlord Stanley. Hail! Hail! Hail!

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