The Oshkosh TerraMax tests the terrain of the Mojave Desert in the $2 million DARPA Grand Challenge.
A manufacturer of specialty trucks has teamed with a company that makes aviation autopilot systems in an attempt to win this year's DARPA Grand Challenge— and a $2 million prize. Oshkosh Truck Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., and Rockwell Collins Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are currently working on the TerraMax, a selfnavigating robotic vehicle.
The DARPA Grand Challenge is a Pentagon-sponsored competition that pits autonomous vehicles against each other. Each vehicle must traverse a 175-mile off-road course in the Mojave Desert. Based on sensor data, a vehicle must make its own decisions on route planning, obstacle avoidance, and speed without human intervention.
The platform for TerraMax is Oshkosh's Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR), originally built for the U.S. Marine Corps. The MTVR features a special independent suspension and "on-the-go" tire inflation. The TerraMax version of the vehicle adds rear-wheel steering for excellent turning capability.
In 2004, TerraMax was one of only seven entries to complete a 1.3-mile qualifying course. It also managed a 1.2-mile run into the desert on race day.