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Obviously Herbie, the possessed Beetle, hasn’t put Volkswagen of the idea of giving their cars a mind of their own. Yesterday a highly modified VW Passat went on show at the Science Museum. The advanced teutonic driving wizardry is part of the Team LUX entry into the DARPA Urban Challenge, a competition run by the US military with the aim of finding a car capable of driving itself through urban environments. Then they’ll presumably build themselves an army of robotic tanks like something out of Robocop.

The LUX Passat cost a whopping £1m to put together, which is expensive, even for a VW, but the money will have been well spent if their technology is used for any commercial or military applications, and, who knows, perhaps your car will be driving itself within a few years.

Team Lux say:

Team-LUX has chosen a production car for the DARPA Urban Challenge – a VW Passat 2.0 TDI built in 2006. The autonomous control equipment is fully integrated into the vehicle. This makes the Team-LUX the first ever to enter the DARPA Challenge with a car that looks exactly like a standard road model, mostly without visible extensions such as sensors, antennas or processing systems.

The vehicle is equipped with three Ibeo laser sensors or “intelligent eyes”: two at the front of the vehicle and the third in the rear, giving the car 360° vision. No other sensors of any type are required!

We’re not sure whether we could find an underwriter to accept a robot as a named driver, but we reckon it’s got to be a pretty good risk. It will, presumably, need to pass a driving test before we have to worry about that, though.

Cars are definitely getting more and more advanced, but, thankfully, there’s nothing quite like the Dancing / Ice Skating Citroen Robots just yet.

  • VW Parts Blog

    >I would have to say that I wanna see first the technology of sensors of this Robo VW Passat first than spent a £1m for one of this car without testing the capabilities of this new VW…. Would it change my VW oxygen sensors and save some money evertime it will break down? Would this sensors will have a free upgrade everytime they lunch new software of the processing systems? Too good to be true…