The goal of the http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge DARPA Urban Challenge is to race an autonomous vehicle through city traffic and visit your destinatons before anyone else. Many people are intrigued by the challenge but lack the resources to participate. Now the race is accessible to anyone through open source collaboration. The race will be held on University of British ColumbiaNovember 3, 2007.
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed and made public two key software pieces. These include a simulator (http://sourceforge.net/projects/usarsim) and a robot controller (http://sourceforge.net/projects/moast). The University of British Columbia Thunderbird Robotics group (http://www.ubcthunderbird.com) has modified this software to be suitable for the Urban Challenge, and configured a Jeep Cherokee for autonomous control.
The simulator is based on Unreal Tournament 2004 (UT). Users will have to buy a copy to get started. The free runtime does not work with the simulator. The rest of the code is free and open source. UT runs on either Windows or Linux. The simulator needs Wine to run on Linux, so it is happier under Windows. The simulator runs as a server with one or more clients controlling the vehicles. Controllers include MOAST, Player, Pyro, and SimpleUI. SimpleUI provides manual control under Windows. You can run it and the simulator on the same machine. When using SimpleUI, you need to left click on UT to attach the camera to the car. You can get different views with the 'C' key.
MOAST is a sophisticated controller for mobile robots. It can run in Windows under Cygwin, but is happiest in Linux. It must run on a separate machine from the simulator server.
You can become a developer for usarsim/moast by contacting Dr. Stephen Balakirsky (stephen at nist dot gov). Modifications to the code specific to the Urban Challenge are maintained in the UBC code repository.
Tasks for MOAST (Feb 7, 2007: http://www.tfolsom.com/Research/Tasks.html
Contact Dr. Tyler Folsom (tfolsom at ieee dot org) for access.