It's the kind of spectacular driving stunt we expect of James Bond or Frank Martin (Jason Statham in the Transporter film series). Slam the car in reverse, plant the gas pedal against the metal in a screech of tires, wait for momentum to pick up then flick the wheel to perform a faultless backwards 180 degree pirouette that slides a US$100,000 Aston Martin/Audi into an impossibly tight parking space. Only celluloid superheroes can drive like this and get it right every time... oh, and autonomous vehicles. Faultless driving stunts are not normally associated with computers and autonomous vehicles but check out this video because it'll help get everyone accustomed to the concept! Computers will eventually out-drive, out-think and out-perform humans on every level and this clip of autonomous supervehicle Stanley shows that out-driving us all will be sooner rather than later.
Unlike human beings, autonomous vehicles can be expected to regularly improve their performance by better than 100%, at least in accordance with and maybe even outpacing Moore's Law. Just a few years back at the first DARPA Grand Challenge for autonomous vehicles, few teams managed to get out of the car park. Then Stanley, the love child of Stanford University's Stanford Racing Team and Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) won the second (2005) DARPA Grand Challenge, claiming the US$2 million prize and becoming the poster child of the robotics industry. The team's next major start was a second place in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge and now Stanley's children are quickly learning tricks such as that shown in the video.
We've already mentioned the team's intention to tackle the Pike's Peak Hill Climb with another of the VW stable – an Audi TT.
For those who have their masculinity entwined with their ability to drive an automobile, might we suggest a spot of therapy.
This is the video associated with the Audi TT preparations for Pikes Peak:
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