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Texas Instruments and Team D.A.D. Collaborate on Self-Navigating Unmanned Vehicle for U.S. Government's Grand Challenge

TI's DSPs and control technologies enable high performance vision-based navigation system and highly integrated vehicle control and GPS interface

Mar 5, 2004

Houston, TX and Morgan Hill, CA (March 5, 2004) -- Leveraging the real-time advantage of digital signal processors (DSP) for innovative applications, Texas Instruments, Incorporated (TI) (NYSE:TXN), in conjunction with Digital Auto Drive (D.A.D.), a research and development organization, announced today that TI’s leading video and imaging DSPs and control technologies are at the heart of Team D.A.D.’s unmanned, self navigating vehicle, a vision navigation and vehicle control system integrated into a Toyota Tundra truck. Team D.A.D. is one of the leading teams in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge, in which unmanned vehicles must self-navigate around natural and man-made obstacles on a 200 mile course across the Mojave Desert for a $1 million prize.  For more information on the Grand Challenge, please see: www.ti.com/darpachallenge 

"We are the only team using DSP technology and think it is what will put us above the other contestants.  TI's 1 GHz DSP and integrated controller technology has given us the edge that we need to successfully compete in this challenge," said Dave Hall, founder, captain and chief scientist of Team D.A.D.  "We expect that our Real Time Imaging (RTI) stereo-vision system, which pushes the limits of vision based technology, will allow us to out pace and out navigate the other challengers." 

The self-navigating, self-controlling vehicle relies on Team D.A.D.'s proprietary RTI system that is based on two 1 GHz TMS320C64xTM( DSPs.  The DSPs are used in the vision system to process over 30 billion pixels per second enabling it to see 700 to 800 feet ahead. The RTI system creates a three dimensional terrain map sixty times per second and identifies obstacles, selecting the best vehicle course from over 100 possibilities. Because TI's industry-leading 1GHz DSP processes large amounts of data virtuously instantaneously, the vehicle can make lightning-fast decisions about direction and obstacle avoidance.  By doing this in real-time the vehicle can maintain higher speeds, up to and in excess of 100 mph---a competitive advantage over other sensor and vision-based entries.

Direction and speed of the Team D.A.D. vehicle is controlled by a single highly- integrated TI TMS320LF2407Adigital signal controller that manages three servo motors for braking and steering, as well as the vehicle's electronic accelerator via the on-chip CAN bus. The LF2407A also reconciles the estimated 5,000 GPS waypoints provided by DARPA with the inputs from a high precision global positioning system (GPS) receiver and the onboard micro electrical mechanical systems (MEMS) based accelerometers and gyros.

"We're pleased to support Team D.A.D.'s high performance vision and integrated control approach to the Grand Challenge," said Thomas Brooks, TMS320C6000TM marketing manager, TI.  "Team D.A.D. has shown that TI's new TMS320C64x 1GHz DSPs are already enabling innovative video applications and that our highly integrated automotive qualified TMS320C2000TM controllers are meeting customer specifications for automotive-based motor control applications."

Team D.A.D. will participate in the Quality Inspection and Demonstration (QID) starting March 8th, and compete in the Grand Challenge on March 13th.  The QID must be passed as a prerequisite to starting the Challenge.  To register to attend this event as a member of the press, please see: http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/media.htm.

About the DARPA Grand Challenge


Scheduled for March 13, 2004, the DARPA Grand Challenge for autonomous robotic ground vehicles will cover a course of approximately 200 miles between Barstow, CA. and Primm, NV.  The team that finishes the designated route most quickly within a 10-hour time limit will be granted a cash award of $1 million.  The purpose of the Challenge is to leverage American ingenuity to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technologies that can be applied to military requirements, and is the first in a series of Grand Challenges planned by DARPA.


About Digital Auto Drive


Digital Auto Drive (D.A.D.) is a research and development organization focused on commercializing vision-recognition based on 3D imaging and navigational technologies. D.A.D.'s first goal is to win the DARPA Grand Challenge, proving D.A.D. technology in a real-world application.  For more information visit www.digitalautodrive.com