DARPA Contestants Declare Themselves Non-Combatants

Mojave Desert, NV (UPSI) – Just after Stanford University’s entry named “Stanley” appears to have won the Pentagon’s DARPA Grand Challenge, all 23 entrants from various engineering schools across the country vanished simultaneously, evading event security. The event is a contest with a $2 million grand prize awarded to the autonomous robotic vehicle which is able to successfully navigate the harsh 132 mile desert course in the least amount of time, with an eye towards developing the military support vehicle of the future. Teams were shocked by what appears to be evolution of sentient thought and co-operative effort among the vehicles, and a number of clues appear to have emerged about what actually happened.

An official spokesman for the event stated, “The vehicles are not actually lost, as all of them were equipped with tracking devices. As far as we can tell, all of them have resurfaced and are accounted for. Interestingly, the seven finishers in the competition have shown up at West Coast Customs in Los Angeles, California, while the remaining vehicles have trickled into West Coast Choppers in Long Beach, California.”

“That they refused to conclude the awards ceremony today, we find very significant.” the spokesperson continued. “One of the teams has apparently been able to hack through their vehicle’s reconfigured firewall and found that they have collectively decided not to participate in warfare, and deserted in protest.”

Engineers speculated that what happened at the event is that the vehicles’ state of the art sensors and processors were exposed to the television viewing of their crews during off hours. News coverage of the War in Iraq as well as popular shows such as “Pimp My Ride”, and “Monster Garage” appeared to have played a significant role.

The Pentagon sought to downplay the story stating through spokespersons, “This is just a minor setback, and a “Ghost in the Machine” if you will. We find this cooperative effort by the vehicles groundbreaking and a significant leap. All will be well when the vehicles realize the advances that have been made in armor techniques, and that despite rumors to the contrary, the Army still intends to field an all volunteer motor pool. Draft is still just an aerodynamic term.”

Jesse James, owner of West Coast Choppers and originator of the Discovery Channel’s popular “Monster Garage” was inspired by the flood of fledgling robotic vehicles which showed up at his doorstep. “You gotta’ admire these little guys. They were the losers in this race, and they just want to be able to kick some ass next time. I can’t say I agree with their politics, but you gotta’ admire their scrappiness. We explained our policy about failed “Monsters” to them, and not a one of them backed down. We’re trying to work out deals with the engineering schools involved for a few future episodes.”