DARPA Grand Challenge
A first of its kind, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Association's (DARPA) Grand Challenge offered a glimpse into the future as 15 autonomous robotic ground vehicles attempted to navigate a desert racecourse. The event challenged teams from a variety of backgrounds and organizations to construct an unmanned off-road vehicle that could travel from Barstow, California, to Las Vegas in less than 10 hours. The vehicle that completed the course under the prescribed amount of time was to receive a cash prize of $1 million. The money, however, went unclaimed, as none of the vehicles completed the rugged 142-mile course laid out by Sal Fish, CEO of SCORE International. Competitors' entries were selected after a week-long series of tests held at the California Speedway in Fontana, California, to determine each vehicle's ability to safely navigate and avoid obstacles while running autonomously. Just hours before the race, competitors were given a CD containing the latitude and longitude of approximately 2,000 waypoints and the speed limits for various legs of the route. The vehicles then left the starting area every 5 to 10 minutes as they began the arduous trek.
Despite the fact that none of the entries reached its destination, event organizers weren't deterred. "Today was a most important first step in a long journey," stated Dr. Anthony Tether, director of DARPA. "Although none of the vehicles completed the course, and we were not able to award the cash prize, we learned a tremendous amount today about autonomous ground-vehicle technology." Col. Jose Negron, DARPA Grand Challenge program director, further stated, "We have clearly sparked the enthusiasm and innovation that makes America great. This event has helped us make major strides to advancing the technologies in the development of autonomous robotic ground vehicles."
RCD/Mickey Thompson Extreme Makeover
A new cross promotion between RCD Suspension and Mickey Thompson Performance Tires and Wheels will be available to consumers and dealers until September 2004. Dubbed the "Extreme Makeover for Trucks," the promotion will offer wheel, tire, and suspension systems all in one package. The extreme packages, or X-Paks, include a 4- or 6-inch RCD suspension system, Bilstein shock absorbers, 33- or 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Radial MTX tires, and 16-inch Mickey Thompson Classic II wheels. For a more extreme look, consumers can elect to upgrade the kit to include the Baja Claw Radial tire or the M/T Classic Lock wheel. Ken Warner, VP of marketing and sales for Mickey Thompson, commented, "The RCD promotion makes sense for us because larger tires are always needed when you lift a truck, and no other modification makes a more extreme statement than a lift kit with big tires and wheels." A special Web site has also been set up so visitors can configure and price a package for their specific application and style. For more information about the RCD/Mickey Thompson X-Pak promotion, contact: (866) 469-7257, www.get-x-pak.com.
Camp Jeep Bi-Coastal in 2004
One of several owner-loyalty programs created by the Jeep division of Chrysler Group, Camp Jeep celebrates its 10th year this summer by adding a second summertime gathering and expanding to a second location. Camp Jeep 2004 will return to last year's site at the Oak Ridge Estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Nelson County, Virginia, and the first ever Camp Jeep California will be held five weeks later in the Santa Ynez Mountains near Santa Barbara. The events will offer East and West Coast Jeep owners and enthusiasts a wide range of lifestyle and family activities, and an opportunity to immerse themselves in the unique Jeep lifestyle. Commonly, the most popular attraction of the events is Jeep 101, a series of specially constructed courses designed to teach off-highway driving and safety skills, and demonstrate the trail-rated capabilities of the Jeep Wrangler, Liberty, and Grand Cherokee. Paired with guides, participants attempt to negotiate steep grades and tackle obstacles such as large rocks, log crossings, sand, and other off-highway challenges. Attendees at both events will have a chance to test out the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, as well as a chance to win a 2-year lease of a Jeep vehicle, courtesy of Chrysler Financial. As an added bonus, Camp Jeep California participants will be the first consumers to testdrive the all-new '05 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Camp Jeep 2004 is expected to attract approximately 2,500 vehicles, with another 1,500 anticipated for Camp Jeep California. For more information, contact: Camp Jeep, (800) 789-5337, www.jeep.com/campjeep.
CAMP JEEP EVENTS
|4 Camp Jeep 2004||July 15-17|
|4 Camp Jeep California||August 19-21|
Ramsey Joins Pro Rock
In a new deal that will offer a cash-contingency program for event competitors, Ramsey Winch has signed on to be the official winch of the 2004 Superlift ProROCK Series. As a national sponsor for the ProROCK organization, Ramsey will join the other series sponsors to offer a combined sum of more than $100,000 in contingency monies to ProROCK competitors for event and series wins and podium positions. Qualifying competitors must have a 5,000-pound-or-more Ramsey winch installed on the competition vehicle and use Ramsey decals on both sides. Ramsey will offer the contingency program to both Modified Stock and Trophy class competitors, rewarding $500 to First Place event winners, $250 to Second Place, and $100 to Third Place finishers. Overall series winners using Ramsey winches will receive $1,000 for First Place, $500 for Second Place, and $250 for Third Place. For more information, contact: Ramsey Winch, (918) 438-2760, www.ramsey.com.
JKS Mfg. Buys ORGS Mfg
Known as the inventor of antisway bar quick-disconnect systems, JKS Manufacturing Inc. recently acquired Off Road General Store (ORGS) Manufacturing. All current ORGS products will be added to the JKS parts line and will be available directly from JKS. Some of the ORGS products include the popular ACOS lift system, adjustable track bars, SuperNerfs, Boomerang shackles, MiniSkids, and Fab Parts, which are aimed at the do-it-yourself builder. JKS Mfg. indicated that it will not be making any product changes at this time and that previous ORGS customers can expect the same high level of quality from ORGS products. The company will eventually transition the ORGS products to its online ordering system at www.jksmfg.com. All ORGS Mfg. products can currently be viewed at www.orgsmfg.com.
Alcoa, KC HiLights Join Calrocs
The California Rockcrawling & Off Road Championship Series (CalROCS) announced its recent marketing partnership with Alcoa Specialty Wheels, making Alcoa products the official wheels of CalROCS. Alcoa will participate in the 2004 championship series activities and will design the 2004 CalROCS King of the Rocks Championship trophy. Also new to CalROCS is KC HiLites, which signed on as a contingency sponsor for the 2004 season