The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that 40 teams are advancing to the semifinals of the DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 autonomous vehicle competition. Teams come from 14 states and Canada, representing universities, individuals, corporations, and a high school.

The competition is a field test of robotic ground vehicles intending to advance autonomous vehicle technology.

These 40 teams will compete in the National Qualification Event (NQE) at the California Speedway in Fontana, September 27 to October 5. Twenty finalists will be selected to compete in the final, scheduled for October 8. Vehicles must travel about 150 miles over rugged desert roads using only onboard sensors and navigation equipment to find and follow the route and avoid obstacles.

A $2 million prize goes to the team whose autonomous vehicle successfully completes the route the fastest within a 10-hour time frame. All vehicles are developed with government funding.

The 40 semifinalists were chosen after site visits to 118 competitors, where they proved their vehicle could navigate a narrow 200-m course with turns and randomly placed obstacles.