Volkswagen's newest Touareg, a prototype fitted with enough sensors, software and servos to send an MIT grad student into a life-threatening giggle fit, successfully completed an off-road course at Germany's Motopark Oschersleben. The prototype is VW's entry in this year's Grand Challenge, a race of autonomous vehicles sponsored by the US government's $2 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to be held in October.
Created jointly between the Volkswagen research department, Volkswagen Group s Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Palo Alto, California, and Stanford University, the robotic Touareg uses several driver-assistance technologies already found on VW cars, including the ESP anti-skid system, first seen in the Phaeton, and Adaptive Cruise Control a system to prevent rear-end collisions now available in the Passat.
In addition to the sensors, which recieve data from hundreds of positions, the robo-Toureg is fitted with four laser detectors, stereo optic equipment, 24-GHz radar systems, GPS navigation, and a drive-by-wire system, all controlled by seven Pentium M motherboards each with a 1.6 GHz processor — not to mention software, lots and lots of software.
TerraMax Robotic Vehicle Returning for 2005 DARPA Challenge [internal]