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Everyone can watch as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s CajunBot makes it way to the Department of Defense’s Grand Challenge on March 13 thanks to Firefly Digital.

The company launched www.cajunbotjournal.com, which will chronicle Team CajunBot and their daily events as they begin the journey to compete in the race from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. UL Lafayette’s entry with CajunBot is the only participant from Louisiana.

According to Mike Spears, president of Firefly Digital, his team developed the website, deploying their Website Gadget® publishing and content management system, which will be used by Team Cajunbot and the CajunBot Chase Team to update the web journal each day.

The team will have the ability to add journal entries, photos and other content from anywhere where web access is available. Any member of the team will be able to add journal entries within seconds.

Firefly Digital and MedExpress Ambulance Service have donated the web journal as part of their sponsorship and support of the CajunBot project.

“ This is an extraordinary opportunity for our university, students and our community to demonstrate an intellectual prowess and our cultural uniqueness,” said Spears. “It’s an event that’s gained significant momentum and extraordinary interest here and across the nation.

“ We thought it would be interesting to provide an online portal to give the CajunBot audience a play-by-play perspective of the team’s journey,” he said.

CajunBot - a six-wheeled all-terrain vehicle - will be traveling across 210 miles of desert terrain as part of a challenge set forth by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. Team CajunBot most recently gained national media attention when CNN visited the UL Lafayette campus for a segment on its show Next@CNN. The show featuring CajunBot is expected to air March 6 at 2 p.m. and again March 7 at 3 p.m.

The Grand Challenge pits 25 teams against one another competing for a $1 million prize. The catch: no drivers. Vehicles will be guided only using Global Positioning Satellites. The goal: to enhance the government’s capabilities with unmanned vehicle technology for future use within the military.

Each team is to prepare a vehicle that can navigate a designated route using only GPS signals for direction and laser sensors which detect upcoming obstacles. Using artificial intelligence, each vehicle will have to react to obstacles and other vehicles along the path.

The corridor with which the vehicles must remain will vary in width from miles wide to tens of feet. It includes open terrain, winding trails and paved roads. A winner will be declared when the first vehicle crosses the finish line within 10 hours.

Team CajunBot arrives in Los Angeles in early March to begin readying for the race. Vehicles will be traveling to Las Vegas. If no vehicle crosses the finish line in the specified 10-hour time limit, the DOD is expected to hold the Grand Challenge each year until a winner is named.

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