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Applanix POS Technology Onboard Seven DARPA Urban Grand Challenge 2007 Competitors

August 15, 2007
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RICHMOND HILL, ONTARIO – Applanix announced that its field proven Position and Orientation Systems for Land Vehicles (POS LV) is helping seven of the thirty-six teams selected as semi-finalists to compete in the 2007 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Grand Challenge. Included among the seven teams are 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge winner Stanford University and runner up Carnegie Mellon University. Other teams adopting Applanix POSLV solutions include Austin Robot Technology (the University of Texas-Austin), Team Autonomous Solutions, Caltech University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Team Urbanator. Applanix POS LV solutions make a significant contribution to robotic vehicle performance, including assistance with overall vehicle navigation through better definition of positioning relative to objects and right-of-way, and by helping to more accurately direct sensors.

The setting for the 2007 DARPA Urban Grand Challenge will be a dynamic multi-vehicle simulated urban environment designed to mimic Global Positioning System (GPS) blockages and reflections (multipath effects). Unlike DARPA’s 132 mile single track rally style desert race in 2005, teams competing this year will be given mere moments for pre-mission programming before their vehicle will be released into the mock urban setting along with other actively moving vehicles attempting to complete their own individual objectives.

Applanix POS LV systems are compact, easily transferable, and fully integrated turnkey position and orientation solutions. Even under the most difficult GPS conditions, particularly in urban and suburban environments where GPS signals may be blocked, reflected (multi-path effect), or otherwise limited, a continuous stream of position and orientation data is supplied by the precision sensors in the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). During complete GPS blockages, the IMU can accurately measure changes in position and orientation for prolonged periods. The included Distance Measurement Indicator (DMI) computes wheel rotation information to further aid vehicle positioning, helping to stave off inertial biases and prolong system accuracy.

"We are very pleased that our solutions have been so widely embraced by this unique and demanding community," said Louis Nastro, Director of Land Products for Applanix. "We are equally proud that every team using POS LV technology has advanced to the next round of competition. The DARPA Urban Grand Challenge will be the most realistic test of autonomous vehicle technology and it seems clear that most of the teams competing realize that the position and orientation requirements for this 2007 Challenge are going to be far more demanding. The teams required a turn key solution, not a component, and that was a key factor in their selection of the Applanix POS LV solution."

The semi-finalists will next compete in the Urban Challenge National Qualification Event (NQE), scheduled for October 26-31, 2007. The top 20 teams from the NQE will move on to the Urban Challenge final event on November 3, competing for cash prizes worth $2 million for first, $1 million for second, and $500,000 for third place. This is the third autonomous vehicle challenge competition hosted by DARPA since 2004.

Applanix recently introduced a new standard in land vehicle position and orientation performance with the launch of the POS LV 610. Responding to client demand for even greater orientation accuracy and superior performance in areas where GPS coverage may be limited, the POS LV 610 is a turn key solution designed for the specific needs of mobile mapping service providers and engineering /survey professionals. Applanix POS LV units are used around the world for a variety of applications, including advanced vehicle design research and engineering, roadway geometry surveying and pavement inspection, mobile mapping operations for road and rail right-of-ways and robotic vehicle automation. For more information on GPS supported inertial navigation for autonomous vehicle navigation or Applanix position and orientation solutions for marine, airborne, and land operations, visit: www.applanix.com.

ABOUT APPLANIX

Applanix, a Trimble Company, develops, manufactures, sells, and supports precision products that accurately and robustly measure the position and orientation of vehicles operating in dynamic environments. Applanix’ Position and Orientation Systems (POS) are used in a variety of applications, including road profiling, GIS data acquisition, aerial surveying and mapping, railroad track maintenance and seafloor mapping. Established in 1991, Applanix is dedicated to supporting customer needs around the world with exceptional solutions, services, and performance.

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