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.