Race-Winning “Stanley” Robot at the Museum

June 25, 2006
A robot nicknamed “Stanley” offers a glimpse into a future of “smart” cars and automated highways. In October 2005 “Stanley” beat 22 other robot vehicles in the 2005 Grand Challenge, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA’s goal was to accelerate research and development in autonomous ground vehicles that will help save American lives on the battlefield. This experimental robot vehicle, a modified Volkswagen Touareg powered by synthetic diesel fuel, is a synthesis of many technologies that allow “Stanley” to drive itself. The vehicle “sees” the road ahead through special sensors, including radar, lasers, a monocular vision system and Global Positioning System receivers. Advanced computer systems and artificial intelligence integrate these technologies to allow “Stanley” to have a sense of its environment and autonomously avoid obstacles and steer clear of trouble. “Stanley” demonstrates promising advances in artificial intelligence—or machine learning—and driverless vehicles. “Stanley” represents the work of nearly 100 people at Stanford University’s School of Engineering, Volkswagen of America’s Electronics Research Laboratory, MDV – Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Intel. The vehicle is on loan from Volkswagen of America, Inc. and Stanford University to the museum’s robot collection. The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage through exhibitions and public programs about social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. The museum, located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. through Sept. 4. The museum will close for major renovations beginning Sept. 5. Admission is free. For more information, visit the museum’s Web site at http://americanhistory.si.edu or call (202) 633-1000, (202) 357-1729 (TTY).