A team of Italian engineers is gearing up for a high-tech road rally that should impress even the outside-the-box dreamers over at DARPA: an 8,000-mile journey from Italy to China, with nobody behind the wheel. The three-month convoy will be the longest test of driverless vehicles ever conducted, taking the cars through twisting mountain passes, Moscow traffic, and harsh Siberian weather before ending up in the sprawling roadways of Shanghai in October.
Technology developed by Virginia Tech for DARPA's Urban Challengein 2006 and 2007 is heading off to war, joining the U.S. Marines and troops from 13 other nations at in Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games next month. Aiding platoons of marines as they participate in the Naval Laboratory's experimentation that accompanes RIMPAC, VT's Ground Unmanned Support Surrogates (GUSS) will autonomously help grunts haul supplies, transport wounded, and carry out other platoon support tasks.
Automakers are already mass producing cars that will parallel park themselves, but the rudimentary sensor-based systems on the latest Lexus or Buick have nothing on Junior. The Stanford Racing Team's autonomous car can throw itself into reverse, jam the accelerator to the floor, and slam on the brakes at 25 miles per hour, sliding sideways into a parking space in a display that would make the Duke boys proud.
For the blind and the physically disabled, moving about a busy urban environment alone presents a constant challenge. For the unlucky few who are both blind and disabled, or for those too impaired to look around while operating a wheelchair, that challenge becomes nearly insurmountable. But now a new "smart" wheelchair may allow those without sight or mobility to traverse a bustling city street.
PopSci test-drives the wholly autonomous Chevy Boss. Check out the video, and see if you can resist the urge to grab at the wheel
By Sean CaptainPosted 01.16.2008 at 2:15 am 7 Comments
Chevy Boss DARPA
Too busy to drive? Let the car take the wheel. PopSci recently went for a ride in the Chevy Boss, winner of the 2007 Darpa Urban Challenge. With tricked-out GPS, sonar, laser guidance and a stack of computers, this 2007 Chevy Tahoe SUV can navigate an urban setting, weave around obstacles, and even negotiate intersections with other cars. GM expects the technology to be affordable, and less obtrusive, in about a decade.