10-08-05 12:33pm PDT
Scratch Axion Racing's Spirit from the list of contenders - it's currently stuck in the dirt spinning its wheels 66.5 miles from the starting line. Race officials have just declared it eliminated.
10-08-05 12:33pm PDT
Though the top three teams still have more than 30 miles to go, DARPA organizers are already making finish-line preparations, flattening the dirt near the grandstands with a forklift to ensure a Zamboni-smooth finish.
It's still too early to celebrate, though, as ENSCO team advisor Lloyd Griffiths can testify. "Things can still go wrong," he said, sitting in the team's tent and watching the onscreen real-time standings intently as his vehicle cruised through the middle portion of the course with flying colors. "There are so many different mechanical things that can happen. Right now, we're just hoping Dexter keeps on trucking." Five minutes later, Dexter was knocked out of the race, felled not by sensor malfunction or motherboard glitches, but by a flat tire.
10-08-05 12:40pm PDT
The top three entries, H1ghlander, Stanley, and Sandstorm have all run perfectly so far, with Stanley and H1ghlander challenging each other for the lead and Sandstorm pulling in at a very strong third. The biggest test of the course lies ahead though and could seriously shake things up. Beer Bottle Pass is the most treacherous stretch of the course with hanging brush, narrow path, tight turns and - oh yeah - a 100 foot drop off on one side. How each team handles this stretch could very well determine the eventual winner. In other news, Team ENSCO's Dexter, which started nearly an hour after H1ghlander but had remarkable pulled within 20 miles of the leaders, just blew a tire and is out of the race. This disaster leaves only a few teams with a legitamate shot of catching the lead three - Team TerraMax, Axion Racing's Spirit, and Gray Team's GrayBot.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.