11 AM: The “All Pause” has been lifted, and the remaining vehicles are being allowed to continue along the route—except for the team from the University of Central Florida, which has just been eliminated. It’s too early to make an iron-clad assessment, but Virginia Tech and Stanford have been among the most impressive teams in the early going. Like every team, they’ve had glitches, including pauses and near-collisions, but have distinguished themselves in managing to shake off the problems in a reasonable amount of time. Still, most human drivers probably wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing the road with them at this point. They swerve erratically at times and take many sections of the course at a snail’s pace.
Gary Schmiedel, the leader of Team Oshkosh, is still reeling following his team’s elimination from the race—especially since he doesn’t even know exactly what happened yet. “When we get access to the vehicle, we’ll be able to figure out what the problem was,” he says. Seeing TerraMax fail was frustrating for him, a little like watching someone get clobbered and not being able to intervene. “When you see your robot having problems, you just have to sit back and watch.”—Elizabeth Svoboda