The DARPA Urban Challenge

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By the dawn of the new millennium, robotics has undergone a major transformation in scope and dimensions. This expansion has been brought about by the maturity of the field and the advances in its related technologies. From a largely dominant industrial focus, robotics has been rapidly expanding into the challenges of the human world. The new generation of robots is expected to safely and dependably co-habitat with humans in homes, workplaces, and communities, providing support in services, entertainment, education, healthcare, manufacturing, and assistance. Beyond its impact on physical robots, the body of knowledge robotics has produced is revealing a much wider range of applications reaching across diverse research areas and scientific disciplines, such as: biomechanics, haptics, neurosciences, virtual simulation, animation, surgery, and sensor networks among others. In return, the challenges of the new emerging areas are proving an abundant source of stimulation and insights for the field of robotics. It is indeed at the intersection of disciplines that the most striking advances happen. The goal of the series of Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics (STAR) is to bring, in a timely fashion, the latest advances and developments in robotics on the basis of their significance and quality. It is our hope that the wider dissemination of research developments will stimulate more exchanges and collaborations among the research community and contribute to further advancement of this rapidly growing field.