I love zoomy applications--and this one is literally one of the zoomiest I've seen. Xilinx Spartan-3 and Virtex-II Pro FPGAs are at the heart of an autonomous vehicle's vision algorithm, allowing the vehicle to 'see' its surroundings, even in adverse conditions.
The vehicle, Ghostrider, is competing at the US Department of Defense-sponsored DARPA Grand Challenge this weekend (See Darpa challenge pushes driverless vehicles). The goal is to spur development of autonomous vehicles that can operate in dangerous environments such as war zones. Ghostrider is the creation of graduate and undergraduates from UC Berkeley and faculty and graduate students from Texas A&M. The Ghostrider team, AKA known as the Blue team is made up of 19 to 29-year olds from the US, Russia, China, Taiwan, France, Korea, Macedonia and Belgium.
According to Blue team member and UC Berkeley student Anthony Levandowski, the Spartan-3 chips are used for motor controllers and sensor data processing, while the Virtex-II Pro devices with embedded processors are used for stereovision.
Best of luck, Xilinx. To monitor the Grand Challenge over the weekend, log onto http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge.com.