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Applanix POS LV Onboard Carnegie Mellon's Vehicles for 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge

RICHMOND HILL, ONTARIO – Applanix announced that its POS LV Position and Orientation technology will be onboard both the Carnegie Mellon Tartan Racing team’s autonomous vehicles being prepared for this year’s DARPA Urban Grand Challenge.

The Applanix POS LV GPS-aided inertial navigation system proved to be a reliable and accurate vehicle guidance advantage during the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. The performance of the POS LV was critical in enabling Carnegie Mellon’s robots to finish the 132 mile course among the top three, a historic first.

The 2007 DARPA Urban Grand Challenge will test the latest advances in autonomous technology by placing pre-qualified robots within a dynamic urban environment. Teams will be given only a few moments to prepare their robotic vehicles to carry out each specific assignment. All vehicles will then face a demanding variety of situational navigation tests that include Global Positioning System (GPS) outages, unexpected path impediments as well as other vehicles while complying with standard traffic laws within a mock urban setting. The robots must be able to avoid collisions while demonstrating how their programming, positioning, and guidance systems are capable of anticipating, analyzing, and responding to various driving situations such as negotiating intersection right-of-way and traffic merging.

“We are very pleased to be working with Carnegie Mellon University’s Tartan Racing team once again,” said Louis Nastro, Director of Land Products for Applanix Corporation. “The 2007 DARPA Urban Grand Challenge requires a different approach to positioning than the previous contest, and presents the largest step ever taken towards practical deployment of such systems. Characterizing the rapidly changing environment around the vehicle is critical and the POS LV is a turnkey solution which enables dynamic spatial data acquisition.”

Carnegie Mellon researchers and engineers have completely redesigned their approach to autonomous vehicle design since the 2005 desert race. The team’s two well-worn Hummer-based entries in the 2005 race both featured a prominent “ball turret” enclosing a gimbal-mounted LIDAR sensor, but the pair of new Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs being modified for this year’s race feature predominantly stationary sensors placed on all sides of the vehicles. While previous designs placed an emphasis on being able to look far forward to detect the optimal path, the new design requirements inherent in the 2007 challenge stress how to safely detect threats and proceed among moving objects on all sides.

Under DARPA rules, Tartan Racing will be permitted to enter only one of the two Tahoe trucks in the Urban Challenge.

“Applanix continues to be a critical part of our team,” said Chris Urmson, Carnegie Mellon’s director of technology for the Urban Challenge. “The POS-LV provides the position information essential for us to fuse data from the numerous sensors on our vehicles.”

The DARPA Urban Challenge is currently scheduled to take place in November 2007. For more information on the POS LV system and other Applanix position and orientation solutions for marine, airborne, and land operations, please visit .


Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix of programs in engineering, computer science, robotics, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A small student-to-faculty ratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students and professors. While technology is pervasive on its 144-acre campus, Carnegie Mellon is also distinctive among leading research universities for the world-renowned programs in its College of Fine Arts. For more, see .


Applanix, a Trimble Company (NASDAQ: TRMB), 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 strives to support customers around the world with exceptional service.

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