NetApp Helps Carnegie Mellon Tartan Racing Team Win 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge

Sunnyvale, Calif. - November 12, 2007 -- Network Appliance, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP) and the entire Carnegie Mellon University Tartan Racing team united to accomplish a critical government mission: to bring the future of unmanned, autonomous vehicle technology to life. Tartan Racing and its sponsors see the technology as key to improved traffic safety, and the U.S. government seeks to remove soldiers from the battlefield and get them out of harm's way.

Over the weekend, Tartan Racing advanced toward these goals and finished in first place in the 2007 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge, which pitted self-driving vehicles against each other over an urban/suburban road course on November 3, 2007, in Victorville, Calif. DARPA, which is the main R&D organization for the U.S. Department of Defense, awarded $2M to the Tartan Racing team for designing the fastest qualifying vehicle and $1M and $500,000 to the second- and third-place winners, respectively.

NetApp, an official technology sponsor, provided the Tartan Racing team with a powerful, scalable, and simplified storage architecture to help manage the collection, storage, accessing, and testing of intelligent robotic data gathered from the team's self-driving Chevy Tahoe vehicle, known as "Boss."

The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and NetApp joined General Motors, Caterpillar, Continental AG, and other sponsors, including Google and Intel, in contributing technology to Tartan Racing's research initiative. In the technology-driven DARPA Urban Challenge competition, Tartan Racing sought to build an autonomous ground vehicle that maneuvers in a mock city environment, executing simulated military supply missions while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections, and avoiding obstacles.

"Vehicles competing in the Urban Challenge are judged not just on how fast they navigate the course, but also on how well they perform," said Dr. Tony Tether, director, DARPA. "The complexity of the Urban Challenge places a premium on vehicle performance, and our judging criteria reflected this."

In order to achieve mission assurance on race day, NetApp® data-management systems, GM innovative engineering, and the entire Tartan Racing organization combined to accelerate the team's ability to analyze and create live simulations when Boss hit the track. With over 300,000 lines of code, Boss can autonomously navigate in town and in traffic by using perception, planning, and behavioral software to take appropriate actions while proceeding safely to a destination.

Boss is equipped with more than a dozen lasers, cameras, and radar to view the world. High-level route planning determines the best path through a road network. Motion planning requires consideration of the static and dynamic obstacles detected by perception as well as lane and road boundary information, parking lot boundaries, stop signs, speed limits, and similar information. Boss also handles surprises, such as other vehicles running a stop sign or making sudden stops or turns, and deploys defensive driving skills to avoid crashes.

Tartan Racing's team of world-class robotics engineers tested Boss extensively over the past year, and averaged six hours of standardized testing every day for the last month while conducting additional hours of focused development and debugging tests. As the engineers fine-tuned Boss for the race, they relied on the speed and performance of the NetApp FAS270 storage system with NetApp Snapshot™ and SnapMirror® technology to store, replicate, and protect their critical testing and analysis data. NetApp storage is the only enterprise data management solution that offers a simplified and cost-effective solution for controlling and managing data for this complex, distributed, and demanding computer environment.

"The simplicity, reliability, and scalability of the NetApp solution played a critical role during the research and development stages as the Tartan Racing team readied Boss for the DARPA Urban Challenge," said Chris Urmson, director of technology for Tartan Racing. "We were able to fix more bugs and fine-tune far more variations of Boss's maneuvering capabilities than before. Overall, Boss's driving is exceptional, and having an enterprise-class data management solution from NetApp in place certainly helped us achieve that goal."

"We are thrilled that the Tartan Racing team finished first in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. The development of a production-quality autonomous navigation system will advance the mobile robotics field and increase the safety of our soldiers," said Mark Weber, vice president and general manager of NetApp Federal Systems. "NetApp provided a highly advanced team of robotics engineers with heightened performance and availability to mission-critical data. We played an integral role in advancing robotics technology for driver-less vehicles that we hope will soon keep war fighters out of harm's way and save lives."

For more information on the DARPA Urban Challenge, visit For information on Tartan Racing, visit

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