How frustrated do you feel when you are driving dowtown with a havy traffic. But imagine now that a few of the drivers are robots. How do you feel then?

Mike Montemerlo is the lead scientists developing Stanford’s newest robotic contestant in DARPA’s Urban Challenge. He said that "It’s a little bit scary to think about (our robotic car among) other human drivers or other really large vehicles."

Volkswagen Junior - the robot racer
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The contest is a follow-up to the defense group’s 2005 desert race, the Grand Challenge. Stanford’s "Stanley," a robotic Volkswagen Touareg, won the $2 million Grand Challenge in a milestone of AI in the 21st century. Finishing fastest, in under seven hours, Stanley was one of only five vehicles to complete the 132-mile Nevada desert course in 2005; the previous year, all of the competitors failed entirely.

Stanford’s AI team has built Stanley’s successor, named "Junior" (after Stanford University founder Leland Stanford Jr.), a modified 2006 Volkswagen Passat wagon in a bright, German-manufactured blue.

Junior is still in the development phase, but the robot is already far ahead of its parent in terms of technology. Junior has to be smarter if it is to meet the stiff challenge of navigating city streets alongside other vehicles, including other robotic contestants and human-driven cars from DARPA.

Volkswagen Junior - the robot racer
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Junior will have much more sophisticated sensors that can "see" the world in a 360-degree view and process that data in as close to real time as possible. The Junior prototype, for example, has a new, high-definition lidar detection system by Velodyne, which spins around to give the robot an omnidirectional view of its surroundings. It also has a Point Grey Ladybug 2 video system, with six video cameras to capture near high-def video in all directions.

Source: CNet News

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