2007 DARPA Urban Challenge in the US: Volkswagen to enter sensor-driven Passat

    Autonomous prototype fitted with cutting-edge technology to master urban
    traffic scenarios in competitive conditions

    WOLFSBURG, Germany, June 25 /CNW/ - One of the world's most
unconventional car races gets underway on 3 November: the 2007 DARPA(*) Urban
Challenge. A variety of teams will be entering their "smart" vehicles on a
course covering 60 miles of unknown territory and designed to simulate urban
driving conditions - the aim being to post the fastest time while, of course,
observing traffic regulations. This requires participating vehicles to merge
into traffic, cross roundabouts and negotiate busy intersections. No drivers
are permitted, meaning that all cars are navigated and driven by computers.
This year's Urban Challenge will see Volkswagen entering a customised Passat -
built by Volkswagen's research department and its California-based Electronic
Research Laboratory (ERL) with the assistance of Stanford University.
    The Passat "Junior" - named in tribute to Stanford University founder
Leland Stanford Jnr. - is fitted with electromechanical power steering, an
electric accelerator pedal, a Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) and an electric
handbrake. Volkswagen of America's Electronic Research Laboratory modified
these electric systems and the brakes to make the vehicle 100%
computer-controlled. Custom-made mountings for the array of sophisticated
sensors were likewise designed and built by the ERL. The vehicle's "brain"
comprises Intel Core 2 Duo processors featuring two multiple-processing units
per chip. Together with software developed at Stanford University's Artificial
Intelligence Laboratory, the vehicle will be genuinely autonomous.
    "After our victory at the last DARPA Grand Challenge, Volkswagen is
excited to join the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. 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",
explains Dr. Burkhard Huhnke, head of Volkswagen's Electronic Research
Laboratory. And he adds: "In the fuel-efficient diesel-powered Passat we have
the perfect car for this challenge, just as our Touareg 'Stanley' was for its
2005 Grand Challenge triumph."
    Volkswagen won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge with a Touareg TDI by the
name of Stanley. Using onboard sensors and navigation features, Stanley
defeated 22 other unmanned vehicles in a demanding 132-mile championship race
taking in rough desert roads, mountain passes, dried-up lakes and tunnels.
Stanley completed the race without a single glitch, posting a winning time of
six hours and 54 minutes.

    The Electronic Research Laboratory

    Since its foundation in 1998, Volkswagen of America's Electronic Research
Laboratory (ERL) has focussed its work on providing customers with smarter
vehicles sooner. This involves identifying new technologies and accelerating
their development for future vehicle production. Based in Palo Alto,
California, the ERL is the only Volkswagen facility of its kind in North
America. Its location at the heart of Silicon Valley enables Volkswagen to
work directly with the world's leading high-tech companies and start-ups.
These partnerships put the ERL in a position to plan and develop innovative
features and applications that are then integrated into Volkswagen vehicles
for analysis and testing purposes. Further details concerning the Electronic
Research Laboratory are available at www.vwerl.com.

    (*) (DARPA - Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, an organisation of
    the United States Department of Defense)

    Note: This text can also be found in our press database:

For further information:

For further information: Volkswagen Communications, Product
Communications, Harthmuth Hoffmann, Tel.: +49(0)5361-928699, Fax:
+49(0)5361-921952, e-mail: harthmuth.hoffmann@volkswagen.de

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