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Autonomous Vehicles

The Pronto4 installed on the steering wheel of a military vehicle

Let’s say you want to go for a ride in your car, but you don’t feel like driving it. Or perhaps you want to drive your car, but you don’t want to go for a ride in it. These two seemingly contradictory scenarios are probably not what Kairos Autonomi had in mind when it developed the Pronto4 Agnostic Autonomy System. The Pronto4 is a drive-by-wire system that when installed in a vehicle, provides self-driving capability as well as remote control. The system is “agnostic” because it is a retrofit kit that the manufacturer claims can be installed in any steering-wheel based vehicle.  Read More

Oshkosh recently demonstrated the capabilities of its TerraMax unmanned ground vehicles (U...

The ability of military vehicles to better protect occupants with modern designs and high-tech materials has become an increasing priority and UK firm Amsafe has already seen success with its Tarian armor plating in the U.S. Oshkosh Defense, part of the U.S. Marine Corp’s MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected) program, is also heavily involved and a recently-announced armor system took an alternative approach with an emphasis on mobility. Development of its new TerraMax vehicles seems almost flawless in its potential, however, at least in protecting the lives of the soldiers on board because, put simply, there aren’t any.  Read More

Verdino self-steering vehicle

We've seen numerous examples of science mimicking nature in the developing fields of robotic automation and artificial intelligence in recent times, from robotic fish to leaping micro-bots and mechanical rodents. Now a team of engineers from the University of La Laguna (ULL) in the Canary Islands have applied this thinking to self-steering vehicles using a system based on the way ants navigate between home-base and their food source.  Read More

Stanley - the first-ever winner of the DARPA Grand Challenge

The pioneering autonomous vehicle that won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge will complete its world tour with a visit to its home town before taking its place at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Dubbed "Stanley", the robotic Volkswagen Touareg developed by the Stanford Racing Team will be on show at the Silicon Valley The Tech Museum of Innovation from June 20 through July 17.  Read More

Volkswagen's Park Assist Vision system

Minor collisions as a result of parking mishaps are a common, costly and extremely frustrating occurrence and for several years auto manufacturers including BMW have indicated that solutions that take human error out of the equation are on the way. The latest news in the area comes from Volkswagen, which has demonstrated its “Park Assist Vision” system at this year’s Hanover Fair. The fully-automatic, remotely-operated self-parking system lets you get out of the car and watch as it backs itself into even the skinniest of perpendicular spaces, using cameras located in the left and right exterior mirrors to gauge the dimensions of the parking area available and communicate this information to the computerized steering and drive systems.  Read More

Team Tartan takes DARPA Urban Challenge win

November 4, 2007 The man-most-likely finally got to stand atop the victory dias in the DARPA Urban Challenge today when Tartan Racing’s Chevy Tahoe Boss gave Red Whittaker the victory everyone thought would be his in the 2005 Grand Challenge. Tartan Racing won the US$2 million prize for first, while Stanford Racing’s VW Junior won the $1 million second place prize, reversing the order from the last DARPA Challenge. Third was Team Victor Tango’s Odin. The event was a massive triumph for the educational system of Pennsylvania which provided the dominant winner of the event (from Carnegie Mellon) and the most ingenious and successful of the underfunded “Track B” teams which came from University of Pennsylvania and Lehigh University (Ben Franklin Racing Team).  Read More

Six teams finish the DARPA Urban Challenge

November 3, 2007 The DARPA Urban Challenge finished here this afternoon with an astounding six teams completing an array of missions over a demanding 60 mile urban course. The logical placegetters in the event were the first three to clear the course, quite some time ahead of the others - Junior (Stanford University's VW Passat), Boss (Carnegie Mellon's Chevrolet Tahoe) and Odin (Virginia Tech's Ford Escape hybrid). No winner has been named on the day, with DARPA due to announce the final placings tomorrow morning at 10am, though Tartan Racing’s Red Whittaker seemed very confident after the event after a completely clean run with no infringements or hiccups and a total time more than 20 minutes faster than the nearest competitor. The calm and confidence after the event did not reflect some of the issues the team experienced on the starting line  Read More

Dr. Red Whittaker 's Tartan Racing was the cleanest of the teams in the NQE.

The finalists for Saturday’s landmark DARPA Urban Challenge were announced here today and the biggest surprise was that the final field was trimmed to just 11 starters, a decision taken by Grand Marshall and DARPA director Dr Tony Tether in the interests of securing a winner. “It’d be a great shame if one of the robots took out another robot,” said Tether as the final 11 contestants were announced. Most pointedly, Tether also introduced Team Tartan as the team that would be the Number One seed “if we were to give a ranking to the number one", before presenting the plate to Dr William “Red” Whittaker of Team Tartan (pictured).  Read More

VW sensor-driven Passat for 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge

June 19, 2007 One of the world’s most unconventional car races gets underway on November 3 with the running of the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. A variety of teams will be entering their “smart” vehicles on a course covering 60 miles of simulated urban driving conditions – the aim being to post the fastest time while, of course, observing traffic regulations. This requires participating vehicles to merge into traffic, cross roundabouts and negotiate busy intersections – all without drivers or remote control - meaning that all cars will be navigated and driven by computers and sensors. Stanford won the last Grand Challenge using a VW base vehicle and one of the favorites for this year’s event is this customized Passat built by Volkswagen’s California-based Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL) with assistance from Stanford University.  Read More

The first energy-autonomous vehicle

October 2, 2006 There is no doubt that if you rated all the automotive companies in the world on their forward thinking and commitment to commercialising new concepts in sustainable mobility, Monaco-based Venturi would win by a country mile. The company which produced the world’s first available electric sportscar (see articles here here and here), recently announced it would partner with Intel to make energy sharing possible via the Venturi Fetish platform and now it has debuted the first energy-autonomous vehicle and despite its non-traditional appearance, production has already begun. The urban 3-seater electro-solar vehicle named the Eclectic goes well beyond anything previously offered by car manufacturers, being the first vehicle powered entirely by renewable energies, the first solar production vehicle and the first car that can be directly recharged with a personal wind turbine. A limited run of 200 vehicles will be available in June 2007 at a price of EUR24,000. The company is shooting for an even higher level of production from 2009 at an estimated base price of EUR15,000. Innovative and astonishing, Eclectic is much more than a simple vehicle ; it is a production and storage plant for renewable energies, either solar or wind based. Charging of these energies, which is intermittent in certain regions, can also be complemented by electrical recharging.  Read More

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