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University of Louisiana team retires Cajunbot; robotics challenge now city, not desert


A six-wheeled robot that twice made the finals in a hot national competition was officially retired, then cannibalized for parts.

The robotics team at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette marked Cajunbot’s retirement with balloons and cake. Then members hauled out socket wrenches to remove sensors, computer equipment and other items that helped Cajunbot make its way through the Mojave Desert in finals of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Grand Challenge.

Ray Majors, who donated the amphibious vehicle on which Cajunbot was based, said he’ll take the now stripped all-terrain vehicle, patch some of the holes to which equipment had been attached, and use it to hunt again.

The Defense Department is holding another challenge to spur innovation in unmanned, autonomous vehicles for warfare. But this one is the Urban Challenge rather than a desert course, entrants must safely navigate city streets with traffic.

ULL’s Jeep-based Cajunbot II is among 50 entries, which will be whittled down to 30 or 40 in August, with finals in November, said team leader Arun Lakhotia, a professor at the university’s Center for Advanced Computer Studies.

A Defense Department team was in town Tuesday to check out Cajunbot II; Lakhotia said tests went flawlessly. A private team from Metairie was coming to town Thursday for a friendly competition. The teams figure they will both benefit from the practice, Lakhotia said.

Information from: The Advertiser,

–Associated Press

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