- Press Release
- Dec 3, 2022
Space Imaging’s IKONOS Satellite Imagery Used by Red Team in DARPA Grand Challenge
Space Imaging’s high-resolution IKONOS
satellite imagery is being used by Carnegie Mellon University’s ‘Red Team’ in
the DARPA Grand Challenge. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) — the research and development arm of the Department of Defense — is
holding the first Grand Challenge off-road race of robotic land vehicles from
Barstow, Calif. to Las Vegas, Nev. on March 13. Upon leaving the starting
line in California, the vehicles will be completely autonomous and will rely
solely on onboard computers, navigation systems and digitized maps to reach
the finish line within a 10-hour time limit. The winning team of the
approximately 200-mile race will take away a $1 million purse. The off-road
racecourse for qualified entrants is being kept secret until race day. Many
consider Red Team’s autonomous vehicle, dubbed ‘Sandstorm,’ the odds-on
favorite. Each team must pass a qualification, inspection, and demonstration
before DARPA will permit access to the starting line the following week.
As a sponsor of the Red Team, Space Imaging has donated 10,000-sq. km
(3,861 sq. miles) of color 1-meter ground resolution IKONOS satellite imagery.
With a market value of $198,000, the satellite imagery is being used in a
layered set of geographic information systems (GIS) data to develop potential
race routes. Other data layers include USGS digital ortho-quad (DOQ) aerial
imagery, USGS digital elevation models (DEMs), DARPA-defined race corridors,
Differential GPS coordinate information obtained from ground reconnaissance,
and LIDAR and sub-meter aerial imagery in select corridors. IKONOS is the
world’s first commercial high-resolution Earth imaging satellite. The imagery
for the Grand Challenge was collected by IKONOS within the last few months.
“A key component of Red Team’s win strategy is to develop the best map
possible without knowing in advance what the exact racecourse will be,” said
former CMU graduate student Michael Clark, Red Team’s Route Team leader. “The
paths we develop from our maps are what will make Sandstorm fast.” Red Team
has amassed a group of 20 route editors and supervisors on its Route Team.
They have spent thousands of hours collectively pursuing development of a
perfect digital map.
On race day, Red Team plans to overlay the DARPA-defined race route on top
of the IKONOS imagery to give the team’s route editors and consultants a
visual understanding of the 200-mile racecourse. If there are path issues,
route editors will use a suite of tools to resolve Sandstorm’s path.
Dr. William “Red” Whittaker, namesake and leader of the Red Team
commented, “A logical step after the Grand Challenge will be to develop maps
and routes in a much shorter time span and more efficiently. Commercial
stereo high-resolution satellite imagery is an ideal tool to speed up the
process, and could even allow for future maps to be developed without ground
reconnaissance.” Red is the Fredkin Research Professor of Robotics at the
Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Penn.
“Our IKONOS satellite imagery and the Red Team’s requirement for
high-resolution map-accurate imagery was a perfect marriage,” said Jim Youker,
director of Military Programs at Space Imaging. “We are continually looking
for partnerships that increase awareness of high-resolution commercial
satellite imagery and that showcase its use in an unique way. Plus, we feel
the resulting technology from this race feeds the Department of Defense with
applications and methodologies that can be implemented into future systems.”
Space Imaging joins some of America’s most prominent technology companies
in their sponsorship of the Carnegie-Mellon team, including Boeing, Intel,
SAIC, Alcoa, Seagate, BFGoodrich, Caterpillar, Earthlink, Trimble, Google, and
— For more information on the Red Team’s use of IKONOS imagery:
— For more information about the Red Team: www.redteamracing.org
— For more information about the DARPA Challenge:
About Space Imaging
Space Imaging is the premier provider of satellite imagery enabling
businesses, governments and individuals to better map, measure, monitor and
manage the world in which we live. Based near Denver, Colo., Space Imaging
radically transformed the Earth information market when in 1999 it launched
IKONOS, the world’s first commercial high-resolution imaging satellite.
Today, Space Imaging’s products are the cornerstone of the remote-sensing
industry. The company supplies the highest quality, most accurate, visual
information about the planet’s changing natural and cultural features. Space
Imaging’s customer-centric business lines include imagery from satellites and
aircraft, decision-support geospatial solutions, and direct access to its
satellites for corporations and governments. With 2003 revenues exceeding
$200 million, Space Imaging is a privately held company with partners,
resellers and 12 affiliate ground stations around the world. For more
information on products and services, please visit www.spaceimaging.com .