The Great Robot Race
The Darpa Grand Challenge (Nova)
Sound: C+ Extras: C- Episode: B
We think of robot always as anthropomorphic (human-like)
or just factory machines, but beyond that and the massive amounts of
information computers can store, what about vehicles with a mind of their
own? Were talking more than just KITT
from Knight Rider, Herbie - The Love Bug or Speed Buggy,
but motor vehicles that can drive themselves and without any help
whatsoever. The Great Robot Race
The Darpa Grand Challenge is a terrific installment of Nova narrated
by John Lithgow who supplies some funny comments in place of vehicles that do
23 vehicles produced by some of the smartest minds in the
country vie for a $2 Million prize that has so much on the line in terms of
prestige, innovation, reputation, progress and establishing a new high
watermark for getting a manless vehicle to drive across a serious distance that
offers almost insane challenges to the teams building the vehicles and some of
them have to bee seen to be believed.
This is another one of their nearly hour-long installments
that could have gone on longer and by the end, you know a follow-up installment
is very much called for. One particular
failure takes Nova to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Carnegie Mellon University
is particularly puzzled by the particularly, spectacularly fatal collapse of
their vehicle. Built well, CMU is so
advanced in this department that they have government contracts and even the
villain in the original novel of the techno-thriller Sliver has a degree
from there. The story proceeds to
investigate and Nova spells out the details in a way that is
understandable and really extends to all the vehicles. The high stakes are suddenly that much higher.
This is exciting stuff and could inspire young children to
consider going into science, making it a winner just based on that, but the
show has much more to offer and is one everyone will enjoy.
The letterboxed 1.78 X 1 image looks good, but the lack of
anamorphic enhancement is unfortunate.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is good, but has no surrounds. The only extra is the usual DVD-ROM
printable material and weblink.
- Nicholas Sheffo