[blindkid] Fwd: Audi to climb Pikes Peak without a driver

Carol Castellano blindchildren at verizon.net
Fri Apr 9 23:16:44 UTC 2010

>We're getting closer!
>Updated At 5 40 AM.. Audi to climb Pikes Peak without a 
>driver      By TERENCE CHEA  Associated Press Writer     The 
>Associated Press     SAN JOSE, Calif.   . It can traverse rough 
>terrain, accelerate quickly and negotiate sharp turns like other 
>high-performance sports cars, but there's one thing that sets this 
>Audi coupe apart: It doesn't need a driver.
>The car, named Shelley, is the latest creation by Stanford 
>University researchers who are developing technology that could help 
>make driving safer and one day allow ordinary vehicles to drive on their own.
>The self-driving car will face its biggest test this fall at 
>Colorado's Pikes Peak, home of the world-famous International Hill 
>Climb that has bedeviled professional drivers with its steep grades 
>and treacherous switchbacks since 1916.
>Automotive researchers have already designed experimental vehicles 
>that can drive long distances or navigate city streets without a 
>driver. With Shelley   named after Michelle Mouton, the first woman 
>to win the Pikes Peak race   the Stanford team is developing a car 
>that can drive at high speeds under extreme conditions.
>What we're trying to do is create an autonomous race car, an 
>autonomous rally car, so a car that can drive itself up to the very 
>limits of handling," said Christian Gerdes, a Stanford engineering 
>professor who directs the university's Center for Automotive Research.
>It may be years before someone can send the minivan out to pick up 
>the kids from soccer practice, but autonomous car technology has 
>already led to features such as automatic parallel parking and 
>adaptive cruise control, which lets a car handle stop-and-go traffic 
>on its own.
>The U.S. Department of Defense has been developing driverless 
>technology that allows unmanned vehicles to perform military 
>missions without endangering soldiers. Its research arm, the Defense 
>Advanced Research Project Agency, has been sponsoring autonomous 
>vehicle contests since 2004 with the goal of making one-third of the 
>military's ground combat vehicles driverless by 2015.
>Volkswagen AG, which makes Audi vehicles and is working with 
>Stanford on the Shelley project, has set a goal of creating fully 
>autonomous vehicles by 2028, said Marcial Hernandez, a senior 
>engineer at Volkswagen's electronics research lab in Palo Alto.
>You're tired at the end of the day. You just want to relax on your 
>way home. Push the button, and the car gets you home," Hernandez 
>said. It's really about the car knowing how to drive.
>Shelley is an Audi TTS that has been equipped with GPS receivers and 
>can be programmed to follow any route using a digital map. The 
>research team has developed computer algorithms that let the car 
>make real-time adjustments to the terrain and calculate how fast it 
>can go without spinning out of control.
>That technology could one day be used to create smarter cars that 
>help motorists avoid accidents when they're driving fast, said 
>Stanford's Gerdes.
>We hope this will be inspiration for future safety systems, for cars 
>that will help a drivers drive up to the capabilities of the car," 
>Gerdes said. So if you're suddenly on a slippery road, the car 
>should be able to react and keep you safely in the lane, pointed in 
>the direction you want to go.
>At Pikes Peak, Shelley will climb 4,721 feet up the 14,110-foot 
>mountain on paved and gravel roads as it covers the 12.4-mile race 
>course and its 156 turns at high speeds. The feat has never 
>attempted by an autonomous vehicle.
>Nearly 200 cars, trucks and motorcycles are expected to take part in 
>the 88th annual "Race to the Clouds" on June 27, but Shelley will 
>have the road to itself when it attempts the course in September. 
>Once the team hits the start button, Shelley will be making all the 
>driving decisions on its own.
>This really represents the ultimate challenge," Gerdes said.
>Shelley is the latest autonomous car designed by Stanford's 
>automotive research center, which is working with major automakers 
>and Silicon Valley tech firms to develop car technology.
>In 2005, Stanley, a driverless Volkswagen Touareg SUV, won the $2 
>million top prize in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's 
>Grand Challenge, a 132-mile autonomous car race through the Mojave Desert.
>Two years later, Stanford's Junior, an autonomous Volkswagen Passat 
>Wagon, won $1 million when it placed second in DARPA's Urban 
>Challenge, a city driving contest that requires cars to follow 
>traffic laws and avoid other vehicles.
>Shelley has already reached speeds of 130 mph at the Bonneville Salt 
>Flats in Utah. In May, Gerdes' team plans to take Shelley to El 
>Mirage Dry Lake in Southern California and attempt to break the 
>world record for fastest autonomous land vehicle.
>On the Net:
>Stanford Center for Automotive 

Carol Castellano, President
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
carol_castellano at verizon.net

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