June 13, 2007

Volkswagen and Stanford University to team up for 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge

Stanley, the 2005 DARPA-winning Touareg
Stanley, the 2005 DARPA-winning Touareg. Click image to enlarge

Auburn Hills, Michigan – Volkswagen of America has announced that its Electronics Research Lab (ERL) and the Stanford University Racing Team will participate in this year’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge. The two will enter an autonomously-driven diesel-powered Passat wagon in the event, which starts November 3, 2007.

The two teams won the US$2 million grand prize at the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge with a diesel-powered Touareg named Stanley. The SUV defeated 22 other unmanned vehicles over a 212-km course in the desert, using only onboard sensors and navigation equipment, covering the event in six hours and 35 minutes.

The Passat wagon will be named “Junior”, in homage to Leland Stanford Jr., founder of the University. It 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. Volkswagen’s ERL outfitted the car with computer-controlled electromechanical power steering, electric throttle, gear shifter and parking brake; the system works with software developed at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab.

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