Posted By RichC on October 10, 2005
The Stanford Racing Team with a vehicle nicknamed “Stanley” has ‘dieseled’ away with the two million dollar prize as it beat the competition in a computer driven car over a desert course in California. Stanley is based on a stock, 5 cylinder inline diesel-powered Volkswagen Touareg and ran the course 11 plus minutes faster than the nearest competitor. The VW Touareg was modified with full body skid plates, a reinforced front bumper, Intel computers (seven Pentium M computers to be exact) that actuate via a drive-by-wire system which was developed by Volkswagen of America’s Electronic Research Lab.
The vehicle incorporates measurements from GPS, a 6DOF inertial measurement unit, and wheel speed for pose estimation. While the vehicle is in motion, the environment is perceived through four laser range finders, a radar system, a stereo camera pair, and a monocular vision system enabling Stanley to avoid collisions with obstacles in real-time while advancing along the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge route.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense (DoD). The challenge was created in response to a Congressional and DoD mandate to accelerate research and development in autonomous ground vehicles that will help save American lives on the battlefield. The Grand Challenge brings together individuals and organizations from industry, the R&D community, government, the armed services, academia, students, backyard inventors, and automotive enthusiasts in the pursuit of a technological challenge
DARPA’s mission is to create technologies for future application on the battlefield. In recent years, Congress and the Department of Defense have envisioned unmanned vehicles teamed with people to create efficient, integrated, agile and cost-effective forces that will lower the risk to American life.
Kudos to Stanford and its team of corporate sponsors (estimated cost was $500,000) for winning this years DARPA Challenge and showing off a VW diesel.