Stanley is an autonomous vehicle created by Stanford University’s Stanford Racing Team in cooperation with the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL). It competed in, and won, the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, earning the Stanford Racing Team the 2 million dollar prize. Stanley’s descendant ‘Junior’ placed second in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. Stanley is based on a diesel engined Volkswagen Toureg, Junior on a Passat. The Stanford Racing Team chose the Touareg for its ‘drive by wire’ control system which could be adapted to run directly from an on-board computer.

To navigate, Stanley used five roof mounted LIDAR units to build a 3-D map of the environment, supplementing the position sensing GPS system. An internal guidance system utilizing gyroscopes and accelerometers monitored the orientation of the vehicle and also served to supplement GPS and other sensor data. Additional guidance data was provided by a video camera used to observe driving conditions out to eighty meters (beyond the range of the LIDAR) and to ensure room enough for acceleration. Stanley also had sensors installed in a wheel well to record a pattern imprinted on the tire and to act as an odometer in case of loss of signal (such as when driving through a tunnel). Using the data from this sensor, the on-board computer can extrapolate how far it has traveled since the signal was lost.

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