Stanford University's "Stanley" won the 2005 Grand Challenge by finishing in six hours, 53 minutes. The Volkswagen Touareg R5 combined six laser range finders with a color camera, radar system, GPS system, and inertial navigation system.
Photo courtesy of Stanford University
I'm a bit confused by the further reading links provided. While all-electric cars are admirable, I'm not quite sure how they are related to self-driving cars. Stanley is a diesel-powered Volkswagen, while the Google self-driving cars are based on the hybrid Toyota Prius, the same platform used for their fleet of Google Street-view cars. I'm all for innovation and I am hesitant to disparage any engineering lab, but I find it difficult to believe that the self-driving car revolution will be led by General Motors. I've read GM's press releases but I haven't seen GM take the technology lead in the past. Please set me straight if I'm way off base.
While it's one thing to see these crazy vehicles as part of DARPA development projects, it's quite another to think of an autonomous car like the one Google is working on fighting New City cab drivers for right of way, crawling through the traffic jams in San Francisco, or cruising (hopefully not careening off) over the Golden Gate bridge.
As one that doesn't even trust the rear-view camera for backing out or parallel parking, I'm not sure I could leave the driving to the car--no matter how much onboard intelligence you pack on.
A well-known automotive consultant who did an extensive teardown of BMW’s i3 all-electric car said its design is groundbreaking in multiple ways. “We’ve torn down about 450 cars, and we’ve never analyzed anything like this before.”
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