“Boss,” the brainchild of Tartan Racing (a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University and General Motors), was the winner of the 2007 Darpa Urban Challenge, a competition of autonomous vehicles. The mission: execute tricky merging, passing and parking maneuvers as quickly as possible, while obeying California-state traffic laws. More than a dozen lasers, cameras and radars feed information about Boss’s surroundings into its “brain,” a computer that uses 500,000 lines of code to make decisions about the best way to reach its destination. Boss drove the course at up to 30 mph and took corners hard, finishing almost 20 minutes faster than its closest competitor. Its performance suggests that self-driving cars might not be so far off after all. tartanracing.org
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