March 6, 2007


Volkswagen and Stanford University team up for 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge

Auburn Hills, Michigan – Volkswagen of America and Stanford University have announced they will enter a completely autonomous 2006 diesel-powered Passat wagon in the DARPA Urban Challenge in November 2007. The partnership follows the success of “Stanley”, an autonomous Touareg that won the US$2 million grand prize in the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge desert race.

The robotic Passat will compete on a 96-km mock urban course that involves merging with traffic, crossing traffic circles and negotiating busy intersections, while following traffic laws.

The Passat wagon, named “Junior” in homage to Stanford University founder Leland Stanford Jr., is equipped with electromechanical power steering and electric throttle, gear shifter and parking brake. The electric systems and the brakes were modified by Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Laboratory to be completely computer-controlled, using software developed at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab.

“After our victory at the last DARPA Grand Challenge, Volkswagen is excited to join the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge,” says Dr. Carlo Rummel, executive director of Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Laboratory. “We see an opportunity to further advance intelligent technologies for use in passenger vehicles of the future. The features developed for the Urban Challenge will ultimately make driving safer and more enjoyable in today’s increasingly dense traffic.”

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