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Byline: Bruce V. Bigelow
Oct. 6--The 23 robotic racers that gathered in the infield of the racing oval at the California Speedway in Fontana yesterday looked as if they had answered the casting call for another sequel to the "Mad Max" movie.
There was a chartreuse 32,000-pound military truck from Wisconsin that could qualify for Humongous, "the Ayatollah of Rock 'n Rollah." A customized desert racer from Virginia looked like a hockey mask on wheels. Some of the pickups and sport utility vehicles seemed straight out of a kludge factory, with antennaes and appendages mounted all over.
But now, after completing an eight-day qualifying event, all 23 are headed for the final challenge in an off-road race the Pentagon conceived to push the development of robotic systems and unmanned vehicle technology.
The robotic racer that finishes the 150-mile desert course with the …