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Autonomous Driving

One of the most forward-looking projects at the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory, autonomous driving research is exploring the necessary systems and infrastructure to enable truly driverless vehicles. This research is yielding tremendous advances in our understanding of vehicle dynamics, control systems and sensor optimization —all vital components of the intelligent systems we are developing for real cars and real drivers.

The US Department of Defense encourages research in this area through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. To that end, DARPA hosts a prize competition on a semi-annual basis, pitting research organizations against each other in a Grand Challenge.

Working in partnership with Stanford University, the ERL has been a two-time winner of the DARPA Grand Challenge. Our first winning entry was known as “Stanley,” an autonomous Volkswagen Touareg engineered to endure the rigors of driverless operation through 132 miles of desert racing. Two years later, the teams came together again to produce Junior, a Volkswagen Passat wagon, for the DARPA Urban Challenge. Junior ranked second among the initial 85 contestants and was one of only six cars to cross the finish line.

To learn more about Junior and the ERL’s research into autonomous driving, view the Urban Challenge video.