Automotive DesignLine Blog
This VW Golf navigates obstacle courses on its own.
By now you've heard of the DARPA Grand Challenge and upcoming Urban Challenge for developing autonomous vehicle technology. Well, thanks to the folk at Autoblog.com, here's news from Volkswagen of a Golf GTI already in repeated use as an autonomous vehicle.
VW engineers use the car to test systems by running through an autocross course more consistently than human drivers would. The car first "drives" slowly through the desired circuit to obtain laser-sensor-based cone positions and GPS coordinates of the route. An onboard computer then determines the required control inputs to negotiate the course in the most efficient manner. The car then reruns the route as needed.
While not truly autonomous, such a vehicle could be the first stage to full autonomy. Drivers could have their vehicles similarly "programmed" by another person, storing waypoints for their most frequent routes, and then rely on on-board obstacle avoidance sensors to help them arrive at a destination with minimal or no driver assistanceaiding disabled or elderly drivers.