Volkswagen and Stanford University Announce 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge Contender


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AUBURN HILLS, Mich., March 5 -- Volkswagen of America, Inc. and Stanford University will participate in this year's DARPA Urban Challenge on November 3, 2007 with a completely autonomous 2006 diesel-powered Passat wagon. The robotic Passat will compete on a 60-mile mock urban course that involves merging with traffic, crossing traffic circles and negotiating busy intersections while following traffic laws.

The Passat wagon - named 'Junior' in homage to Leland Stanford Jr., founder of Stanford University - is equipped with electromechanical power steering and electric throttle, gear shifter and parking brake. Volkswagen of America's Electronics Research Laboratory modified these electric systems as well as the brakes to be completely computer-controllable. Custom mountings for the wide array of sophisticated sensors were also designed and built at the ERL. Intel Core 2 Duo processors, including multiple processing units per chip, make up the car's "brains"; together with the software developed at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab-the car will be truly autonomous.

"After our victory at the last DARPA Grand Challenge, Volkswagen is excited to join the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. We see an opportunity to further advance intelligent technologies for use in passenger vehicles of the future. The features developed for the Urban Challenge will ultimately make driving safer and more enjoyable in today's increasingly dense traffic," said Dr. Carlo Rummel, executive director of Volkswagen of America's Electronics Research Laboratory.

Rummel added, "With the fuel efficient Passat, we have the perfect vehicle for the job; just like our Touareg 'Stanley' was for the desert race in 2005."

Volkswagen brought home the two-million dollar grand prize at the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge with a diesel powered Touareg named Stanley. Stanley defeated 22 other unmanned vehicles in a rigorous, 132-mile championship race over rough desert roads, mountain trails, dry lake beds and tunnels, using only onboard sensors and navigation equipment. Stanley performed flawlessly and achieved victory after six hours 35 minutes.

About the Electronics Research Laboratory

Founded in 1998, the Volkswagen of America Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) focuses on providing customers with smarter cars, sooner. It aims to identify new technologies and accelerate their development into future production vehicles. Located in Palo Alto, California, the ERL is the only facility of its kind representing the Volkswagen Group in North America. Its presence in the heart of Silicon Valley allows the Volkswagen Group to work directly with the world's leading high-tech companies and start-ups. Working closely with these partners allows the ERL to design and develop innovative features and applications, which are then integrated with Group vehicles for evaluation and testing. More information about the Electronics Research Laboratory can be found at www.vwerl.com.

About Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Rabbit, New Beetle, New Beetle convertible, GTI, Jetta, GLI, Passat, Passat wagon, Eos, and Touareg through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen of America online at vw.com.

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