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Project Background

In 1919 Raymond Orteig offered a prize of $25,000 for the first nonstop aircraft flight across the Atlantic. Many famous aviators attempted to win the prize. Famed polar aviator Richard E. Byrd was the odds on favorite to win.  Many of the favorites, including Byrd, crashed and never got close to winning the prize.

In May, 1927, a virtually unknown air-mail pilot named Charles Lindbergh flew out from San Diego.  Flying the Spirit of St. Louis, built by Ryan Aircraft Company, Lindbergh literally came out of nowhere and won the Orteig prize.  Despite all of the press that Byrd and other aviators were getting in pursuit of the Orteig prize, Lindbergh's determination brought the prize to be his own.

Fast Forward About 80 Years...

And now there is another prize up for grabs.  Instead of Raymond Orteig, the US Government - through the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) - is offering a $2 million prize for the first vehicle that can traverse the Mojave desert.  What's the catch?  The vehicle must traverse the desert unmanned and completely autonomous. It's more than a challenge, it's a Grand Challenge.