Although it seems like we are hurtling toward making Skynet fully self-aware, I still find this Department of Defense project very cool. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is running the first DARPA Grand Challenge. The challenge is a fairly simple race from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on March 13th. The race course involves several checkpoints along the way and travels over many types of terrains and obstacles.
The geekysexy bit is that the race has to be run by completely autonomous robotic cars. Engineers are designing vehicles that can drive themselves, avoid obstacles and make decisions about how to get from one point to the next. They use GPS to guide themselves from one point to the next. But no one will know where the checkpoints will be before the race, they will be input right before they start. They don't know if anyone will actually finish the race, but it should be fun to watch.
And by the way, first prize is a million dollars.