Geeks, Robots, and Grand Challenges: Prototyping collective identity within an emerging autonomous vehicle field

Chris Hayter
Arizona State University School of Public Affairs
Jueves, 25 Mayo 2023 - 11:00

The recent emergence of an autonomous vehicle (AV) industry in the U.S. has been attributed primarily to the 2004-2007 DARPA Grand Challenges, three competitions during which teams constructed robots to transverse a desert racecourse (2004-2005) and complete a series of simulated urban driving scenarios (2007). Popular accounts of the Grand Challenges credit victories by Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, respected research institutions that have received hundreds of millions of dollars in robotics research funding, and the subsequent establishment of Google Waymo with the birth of the AV industry. However, this dominant narrative overlooks significant contributions of “geek teams” who, despite possessing far fewer capabilities and resources, created game-changing innovations during the Challenges and established startups that today form the backbone of the AV industry. This seminar will provide deeper insights into how the individual prototyping efforts of geek teams, combined with a shared robotics architecture, led to the formation of collective field identity, an important antecedent to industry emergence. Implications for research and innovation policy will be discussed.


Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Edificio 8E, Acceso J, Planta 4ª (Sala Descubre. Cubo Rojo)
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia | Camino de Vera s/n


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Breve CV del Ponente: 

Chris Hayter has spent the previous nine years at the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs where his research has focused on understanding academic entrepreneurship and its commercial impact, career transitions among university postdocs, and the performance of entrepreneurship and technology development programs. In August, he will be joining the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology as an Associate Professor. Prior to joining ASU, he spent 15 years as a science and entrepreneurship policy advisor working with organizations such as the U.S. National Research Council, National Governors Association, and New York Academy of Sciences. Chris is also an entrepreneur and, in 2020, co-founded a software startup, Tractiv, which is focused on addressing security-related data transmission issues in the financial services and media industries.