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Fifteen teams have shown their mettle and their metal in DARPA's $1 million Grand Challenge event, receiving approval to compete in the contest tomorrow.

Only seven teams this week actually made it all the way through a 1.36 mile test course. DARPA, however, will let another eight teams that showed promise compete in Saturday's race from Barstow, California to just outside of Las Vegas. This course should be between 150 miles to 200 miles and will require the fifteen robot vehicles to steer themselves across the entire length with no human intervention.

The troubles teams had in completing the test course point to just how hard the Grand Challenge is expected to be. DARPA will award $1 million to the team that makes it first all the way to Vegas, if it can get there in under 10 hours. At this point, it's looking less and less likely that a team will be able to complete the run.

DARPA plans to hold a Grand Challenge-like event every 18 to 24 months until a team wins the $1 million.

California has dominated the contest despite entries coming in from all over the country. DARPA will be sending off the teams in a time-trial format based on their performance in test runs. The list is as follows:

1. Red Team Pittsburgh, PA
2. SciAutonics II Thousand Oaks, CA
3. Team Caltech Pasadena, CA
4. Digital Auto Drive (DAD) Morgan Hill, CA
5. Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA
6. Axion Racing Westlake Village, CA
7. Team CajunBot Lafayette, LA
8. Team ENSCO Falls Church, VA
9. Team CIMAR – Gainesville, FL and Logan, UT
10. Palos Verdes High School RoadWarriors Palos Verdes Estates, CA
11. SciAutonics I Thousand Oaks, CA
12. Team TerraMax Oshkosh, WI
13. Team TerraHawk Gardena, CA
14. The Golem Group Santa Monica, CA
15. The Blue Team Berkeley, CA

The Red Team from Carnegie Mellon University will run a Hummer outfitted with more than $3 million in equipment. Compare this to the Blue Team, which will run a motorcycle funded out-of-the-pocket by a graduate student.

Race coverage will be available here, and El Reg will provide updates tomorrow. ®

Related stories

Robot grunts tumble in race for $1m prize
$1 million Grand Challenge map leaked on Web
DARPA quells robot road rage
DARPA chisels little guy out of $1 million race
DARPA's indecision threatens integrity of $1 million race

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