CajunBot greets Gov. Blanco at Capitol

Mike Hasten
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June 3 2004

John Rowland/The Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Gov. Kathleen Blanco honors the CajunBot team Wednesday on the steps of the Capitol in Baton Rouge. The robot was built by UL Lafayette students as the school's entry into the Grand DARPA Challenge.

BATON ROUGE - CajunBot UL Lafayette's self-guided computer-driven all-terrain vehicle climbed the Capitol steps Wednesday to greet Gov. Kathleen Blanco who lauded it as evidence of what can be done when the public and private sectors work together.

CajunBot runs on gasoline but it is fueled by brainpower Blanco told the gathering of state officials and UL Lafayette students faculty and alumni.

This was created as a way to protect our troops and has put Louisiana on the map in technology development.

"What you're doing " Blanco told the university research team that designed the vehicle "is important to Louisiana's future. This is a fine example of
innovation and new technology."

Sally Clausen president of the University of Louisiana system called the vehicle "a technological wonder."

The crowd cheered as the vehicle this time driven by a student using a device similar to a computer game controller traveled up a sidewalk near former Gov. Huey Long's statue and gravesite crossed a parking lot rolled up a set of steps and then spun in place to face Blanco.

University researchers answered a U.S Department of Defense call last year to compete in a national contest to develop an unmanned vehicle that can read terrain maneuver over long distances using satellite location signals and negotiate turns without contact with humans. The military is trying to develop autonomous "thinking" vehicles to replace ground combat forces.

Of 106 applicants UL Lafayette was one of only 13 selected to compete on a 200-mile course through desert and mountainous conditions between Barstow Calif. and Las Vegas. None of the vehicles completed the course and claimed the $1 million prize but CajunBot has been invited to compete again in November 2005 for a $2 million prize.

┬ęThe Lafayette Daily Advertiser
June 3 2004

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