Wolfsburg, Germany – “Stanley”, the first autonomous automobile to master the “Grand Challenge” for robot cars, is now on display at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California. The prototype will be on display there from June 20 to July 18, 2008. It was here in the Silicon Valley region near San Francisco that the Stanley project was originally born.
The driverless Touareg set out on the 212-kilometre race through the Mojave Desert amidst a field of 22 other competitors on October 8, 2005. Stanley travelled through the desert all on its own – no driver, no external intervention. It was the first to cross the finishing line after six hours, 53 minutes and 58 seconds. Never before had a motor vehicle managed anything close to such a distance completely autonomously.
This prototype is equipped with an array of driver-assistance systems which are now featured in standard-production vehicles. Those systems include, among others, the Electric Stabilisation Program and Navigation Assistance, Automatic Distance Control plus Front Assist for a reduced braking distance, as well as the Lane Assist lane-keeping system. Special high-tech fittings in the Stanley also include laser detectors, stereo optical devices, radar sensors, exceptionally precise GPS systems and control software specifically developed for the vehicle.
Like its successor project, “Junior”, Stanley is the product of collaboration between the Stanford University (which gave the car its name) and the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory – both based in California’s Silicon Valley. The third participant in the project was the Volkswagen Research and Development division in Wolfsburg.
The Tech Museum of Innovation opened in 1990. Its mission is to promote understanding, through interactive displays, for the different fields of technology which determine our everyday lives. The museum attracts some 650,000 visitors to its various exhibitions every year. These exhibitions focus on a variety of aspects in an attempt to capture the pioneering spirit of Silicon Valley and the inventive spirit of engineers.
Peter Friess, the Munich-born president of The Tech Museum, feels Stanley is right where it belongs in San Jose: “Our museum is a window to the most innovative achievements produced in Silicon Valley. And Stanley represents a milestone in recent technology history. Indeed, Stanley caused quite a stir here in the region. We are delighted that this exhibition brings about the perfect match of Stanley and The Tech.”
Stanley’s exhibition tour began in 2006 at the biggest museum of technology in the world. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., devoted a special exhibition to the Touareg. The tour then travelled on to Singapore, Johannesburg, Munich, Copenhagen and now to San Jose. In autumn 2008, the Stanley will be handed over to the Smithsonian Museum, where it will be put on permanent display.