LOUISIANA La. -- CajunBot and its cousin, RaginBot, were put through the motions Monday for Defense Department officials in hopes the computer-guided vehicles can qualify for an upcoming challenge race through the desert.
CajunBot was one of 15 robotic vehicles that competed last year for the Grand Challenge -- a 150-mile race through the Mojave Desert using vehicles operated only by on-board computers and sensors.
None of the teams completed the course, so the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- or DARPA -- doubled the prize to $2 million for the winner of this year's race.
DARPA's purpose through the Grand Challenge is to develop unmanned ground vehicles to help protect soldiers on the battlefield.
CajunBot and RaginBot were developed by students and researchers at the University of Louisiana ... at Lafayette.
CajunBot was the lovable underdog entry last year, going up against entries from better-funded and more recognizable robotics institutions such as MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Cal Tech, using a amphibious six-wheel vehicle often used by hunters.
RaginBot is a Jeep, donated by Lafayette Motors, outfitted with the same sensors and steered and driven using a modified system used by physically impaired drivers.
By KEVIN BLANCHARD