Ody-Era Homepage

The Ody-Era team would like to thank all those who helped us get to the semi-finals of the DARPA Urban Challenge in Victorville, California. Our $20K system did not out-perform the million-dollar vehicles out there, but for a few ordinary guys working out of a garage, the opportunity to compete against the best in the world was a truly unique experience.

We will be adding here photos and videos of our exciting trip to Victorville shortly. Till then, the contents of this website are similar to what they were before the DARPA Urban Challenge.

Welcome to the Ody-Era website!

Ody-Era is the name of a futuristic autonomous vehicle that is being developed to compete in the DARPA Urban Challenge race in 2007. This site provides an overview into all aspects of the Ody-Era project, including new and exciting technological innovations that are being incorporated to make this vehicle a truly unique piece of engineering and technology!

It is worth noting that there is one significant difference between Ody-Era and many of the other teams in this race. While some of our competition have multi-million dollar budgets, we have spent less than $20,000 on this project, excluding the cost of the vehicle. Our vision system has been built from scratch, starting right from the derivation of algorithms. We are using a single ordinary desktop computer for all vehicle control, instead of the racks of high-performance workstations that are being used by some of the other teams.

By using highly innovative techniques, such as the use of $50 web cams as vision sensors for our site visit exam and utilizing scale models interacting with toy cars driven by kids to test our algorithms, we've managed to keep costs under control. With under 4000 lines of Visual Basic code controlling all aspects of the vehicle, we are trying to keep our entire vehicle control system as simple as possible.

Behind all this innovation is a dedicated team of individuals with a tremendous amount of relevant expertise geared towards converting advanced theoretical concepts into rock-solid reliable hardware. Although none of us have ever worked on autonomous vehicles, with our experience ranging from working on critical applications for defense vehicles like the Stryker, to the design and fabrication of extreme all-terrain vehicles, coupled with software and system expertise, this highly motivated underdog team is ready for the challenge!

(Shown above are team members Ron Webster, Mahesh Chengalva, Eric Miller, Rick Bletsis, Bernie Moss and Gerry VanHorn. Not shown are team members Mac Gray and Steve Kritikos, who were absent due to farming duties and overseas travel, respectively.)

Ody-Era is now the ONLY team from the state of Indiana! All other Indiana teams have been eliminated at various stages of the DARPA Urban Challenge. While some of our competitors have multi-million dollar budgets, we are managing with minimal resources and still going strong!

But we need your help! Show your Hoosier pride by becoming one of our sponsors. We'll put your logo on our vehicle in return so you may end up recovering many times your sponsorship investment through returns on advertising alone! (Remember, this is a widely publicized race which is attracting international attention). Act soon because we've got only a limited amount of space on our autonomous vehicle and as you can see in the photograph below, advertising space is starting to go!

Click here to view the DARPA fact sheet on sponsors.

If you would like to be a sponsor, please contact us at odyera2007@yahoo.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Watch Ody-Era on the TV evening news!

Click on the icon below to watch a four-minute news clip that was aired on two Indianapolis TV stations recently.

A visit to the Ody-Era "World-wide Headquarters"

TG Daily recently visited the team in Rick's garage. Click on the icon below for an eye-witness account of their tour of the Ody-Era "World-wide Headquarters".

Meet our sponsors ...

The Ody-Era Video Collection

Check out our autonomous vehicle perform some really cool maneuvers.

The Ody-Era Photo Gallery

Take a peek inside Ody-Era to see what we've been up to lately.

The Technology behind Ody-Era

Find what is truly unique about the technology behind Ody-Era and why this technology provides such a competitive advantage.

Team Members

Meet the team members and discover the vast prior experience and knowledge that is being brought into Ody-Era.

The MC-Bot

The MC-Bot is a tiny scaled down autonomous vehicle which is invaluable for testing and validation purposes. It has greatly helped in the development of GPS algorithms.


Find the various milestones that have been achieved by the Ody-Era team.

Ody-Era Art Gallery

Our dedication to winning the Urban Challenge is inspiring some young folks to express their appreciation in artwork. Here are some samples.

If you need more information, feel free to contact the Ody-Era team at odyera2007@yahoo.com.

To visit the DARPA website and get more information about this race, including a map showing the home towns of all the teams selected for the final rounds of competition, click on the DARPA icon below.

For the curious ...

In case you are wondering how our team got its name: Ody-Era stands for Odysseus and Eratosthenes; two giant figures from Antiquity on whose shoulders we are standing.

In the first literary work of the Western World, Homer’s Iliad, the first mechanical engineer, Odysseus, was instrumental in ending the 10-year stalemate of a war with a victory of the Greeks over Ilium (Troy). Homer’s sequel after the war, the Odyssey, describes how Odysseus navigated by zig-zagging throughout the known world (there was no GPS 3200 years ago), faced many dangers, and finally reached his homeland, the beautiful island of Ithaca.

At about 2200 years before our time, Eratosthenes of Alexandria accurately calculated the circumference of the Earth, when his contemporaries and all those throughout the following seventeen centuries thought it was flat. If that were not enough, he also came up with the “sieve”, an algorithm that finds all prime numbers. Therefore, Eratosthenes can be considered as the first computer engineer, long before the invention of modern computers.

There's more from antiquity in Ody-Era. The software that controls our autonomous vehicle is called "Hanuman", which is named after the legendary warrior from the ancient Indian epic, Ramayana. Known for his immense strength, unflinching loyalty and the ability to effortlessly travel to any place at any time and under any conditions, Hanuman embodies the very qualities we seek in our autonomous vehicle.

The Ody-Era autonomous vehicle is indeed a true blend of values from antiquity and the latest cutting-edge American technology!