On the morning of the 132-mile race, a ramshackle lineup of cars gathered at
The top-scoring vehicle, an entry by Carnegie Mellon University, managed an impressive 7 miles before misjudging a hill — at which point the tires started spinning and, without a human to help, carried on spinning until they caught fire. It was over by late morning. A DARPA organizer climbed into a helicopter and flew over to the finish line to inform the waiting journalists that none of the cars would be getting that far…
But the competition was anything but a disaster. The rivalry had led to an explosion of new ideas, and by the next DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005, the technology was vastly improved. An astonishing five driverless cars completed the race without any human intervention.