Apparently to avoid the debacle of last years DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous vehicle race, DARPA is pre-qualifying participants.
DARPA chose 40 teams from 118 entrants now. From those 40 only 20 will actually be racing for the $2 million prize in the Grand Challenge event, scheduled for October 8, 2005. The 40 teams have to compete at the California Speedway in Fontana, September 27 to October 5, 2005 to qualify for the final challenge.
DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 is a field test of robotic ground vehicles for the purpose of advancing autonomous vehicle technology. The vehicles must travel approximately 150 miles over rugged desert roads using only onboard sensors and navigation equipment to find and follow the route and avoid obstacles. DARPA will award $2 million to the team whose autonomous vehicle successfully completes the 2005 route the fastest within a 10-hour time period. All vehicles are developed without Government funding.
At the first DARPA Grand Challenge last year all vehicles failed within the first couple of miles.
More details on the DARPA Grand Challenge site.