Exactly one month ago, we brought some interesting information about an Audi TTS that was planning on making the Pike Peaks International Hill Climb without a driver sitting in the driver’s seat. That technology was brought forth by the masterminds over at Stanford University who have spent a lot of time working on the automobiles of the future. This technology is rapidly approaching reality and eventually there will be no need for drivers at all. Case in point is the Volkswagen Passat by the name of Junior. The VW was wired up before the Audi TTS (Shelley) was born and has even placed second in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) 2007 Urban Challenge, a race in which an autonomous car must navigate city streets, obey traffic laws, avoid obstructions, and, crucially, drive well among other cars in traffic. The video shown here illustrates Junior’s capabilities as they were back in 2007 when it was attempting to qualify for the Urban Challenge. The folks over at Stanford University came across some problems with Junior, but in the video shown after the jump, the solution to these problems is explained.
The Computer Science Department over at Stanford University has developed a method for executing a sliding parallel parking maneuver on a full size autonomous car. The method includes a physics-based car simulator (which works off of the model of the car’s dynamics) and demonstrations of the car sliding around (which help them with the unknown variables such as the friction of the tires on the ground). With their new technology, Junior is able to blend both types of methods, or use them each individually depending on the situation, to perform this type of “extreme parallel parking”. This sliding car maneuver is one of the most challenging maneuvers performed on an autonomous car and the Stanford Driving Team have been able to execute this task with a final position error of about two feet proving that the future is a lot closer than we think.