Archive for June, 2007

Stanford DARPA Cars

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

On the 14th, I was able to ride in a couple of Stanford’s self-driving cars. One of the cars was named Junior, and I can’t remember the name of the other car. My understanding is that Junior will be used in the DARPA Urban Driving Challenge, and the other car is used for development and testing. The first car I rode in was Junior. There was someone in the driver’s seat for safety purposes and someone in the back monitoring and controlling the car with a laptop computer. This car drove itself around a track, but it was pretty dumb about it. All it was doing was following GPS coordinates. It wasn’t using sensors to avoid obstacles or anything. If someone had jumped in front of the car, it would have kept going.

The other car was much cooler. The input into the system is something like a destination point along with any checkpoints you want the car to make. You don’t tell the car how to get to the destination. They had a lane using pylons and the car drove us through this lane around a parking lot, and when it got back to the end, it did a three-point turn.

It was pretty exciting to ride in these cars and ask the people on the Stanford team technical questions.