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Autonomous Vehicles Complete DARPA Urban Challenge

Six of 11 autonomous vehicles finish 90-kilometer course with no major accidents

4 min read

Click here to see a slideshow about the DARPA Urban Challenge

Adelanto, Calif.—Imagine a typical California suburb of one-story stucco homes, curving roads, and cul-de-sacs, but abandoned—the lawns and plants dried up, the windows broken, the rooms empty.

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This photo shows a parked Land Rover that is plugged into a Tesla charging station.

This vintage Land Rover Defender has been refitted with an electric powertrain, one originally designed for a Tesla.

E.C.D. Automotive Design

From the outside, this Land Rover Defender looks like any other example of the postwar British classic that conquered the African outback—and the automotive world’s heart. But when I step on the accelerator, my own heart jumps. The Defender charges like a lioness on a wildebeest’s scent, slaying 60 miles per hour (almost 100 kilometers per hour) in about 5 seconds. That acceleration is so out of character for this doughty old truck, and so fun, that I’m forced to do it again.

Clearly, that’s no lazy Rover diesel chugging below the hood—or even a Chevrolet V-8, a current go-to engine for vintage-car fans seeking a contemporary edge. This Defender, known for raiding tombs, has raided Tesla’s temple of tech.

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