• Oct 11, 2005

The official winner of the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge has been crowned, and it's Stanford University's robotic Volkswagen Touareg, a.k.a. Stanley. The completely autonomous Touareg completed its 132-mile run in the Mojave desert in 6 hours, 53 minutes and 8 seconds, almost 12 minutes faster than the runner up. The prize: a cool $2 mil.

The crowning of Stanley occurred a day later than scheduled in order to give slower moving vehicles time to finish the race. Last year's inaugural race was distinguished by the failure of every single contestant to even make it in sight of the finish line. In order to inspire contestants, the booty was raised from $1 million to $2 million for this year's challenge. DARPA is the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, so we should expect Stanley to see active duty on the front line shortly.

[Source: Volkswagen and Reuters]

More pics with some funny captions after the jump…

2005 DARPA Grand Challenge winner
K.I.T. lives!

2005 DARPA Grand Challenge winner
Drink the hard stuff guys, you don?t have to drive home anymore!

2005 DARPA Grand Challenge winner
That?s one robotic arm you wouldn?t want to get in an arm wrestling match with.

2005 DARPA Grand Challenge winner
Intel inside, Norton on board.


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  • 16 Comments
      • 9 Years Ago
      lithous, your comments are both stupid and offensive. If you had a point somewhere there it was lost in all of the racism.
      • 9 Years Ago
      "What is offensive about Volkswagen, literally peoples' car or car of the people? most people see VW as a symbol of the rebirth of European industry after WWII." http://www.answers.com/topic/volkswagen-beetle#wp-History They changed the name of the city, very interesting stuff.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I think what is truely amazing about Stanley is that it not only finished the race perfectly (minus the bird poop incident) but it also finished ALL of the NQE events perfectly, with 100% accuracy, not a single one of the other bots managed that... All with common VW Touareg...
      • 9 Years Ago
      bad caption... K.I.T.T (not K.I.T.) Knight Industries Two Thousand ;)
      • 9 Years Ago
      Y'all settle down about the fact that it was a VW. The platform doesn't matter, it is the robotics inside that are driving it. The military spec HMMWV has a setup similar to the Touareg: limited slip differentials on each axle, open in the middle diff, with lockers on all three. Just guessing here, but I think the Stanford team wanted to get an automobile with capabilities as close as possible to the milspec HMMWV. Their choices were probably: Mercedes G-Wagen, VW Touareg, Hummer (civilian spec, not the same), or aftermarket modifications on other 4WD platforms. The Department of Defense isn't buying the vehicle, they're buying the robotics and the technical know-how. And I guarantee you that they won't use Volkswagens.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I stand corrected. The Touareg is much better than the Trailblazer/Envoy (at least in a luxury test): http://www.caranddriver.com/article.asp?section_id=15&article_id=1798&page_number=8 But even respected car mags make interesting references. #8 I think #7 (who is probably trying to over emphasize because my comment) is what the average person will get out of the competition to some extent. My problem is the gov't funding that. Upto the early/mid 1990's DOD work had to try/use mostly U.S. products in contracts. Sorry I was being too sarcastic earlier but this forum is full of "GM is lazy" because they make a car with an unattractive interior stuff. Sarcasim is rampant on these blogs.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I love those that state that was 60 years ago like it was 160 or 1060 years ago. This is my favorite reply to "that was 60 years ago"... Stand in front of the Holocaust Museum and tell the people going in there that same statement. One of the main reasons I can't stand VW is that they should have changed their name IMO. I honestly feel like it will always be a tribute to him as long as they have that name. All this type of thing does is perpetuate the idea that German engineering is superior. Point blank. It will probably sell a ton more Touaregs before it will ever be used in a real military situation. Call me racist all you want but I have never harmed anyone because of their race. I'd rather have a car built by a person of color in Detroit than a Caucasian in Europe. So, redefine what you call me but it is not racist. They teach kids in school that diversity is a great thing yet we have to hear how Japanese build better things and the Germans engineer better things. Which is it, does a diverse society like the U.S. do better or a more mono-race based country like Japan? I'm getting mixed signals here.
      • 9 Years Ago
      It was actually 132 miles.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Lithous, The US government acquires goods based on a service schedule. The laws and regulations of government contracting specify that the engineering requirements and blueprints belong solely to the US government upon acceptance of the design contract's final delivery. From there, the US government contracts with many suppliers/manufacturers to build the products using the government's newly acquired blueprints. All parts, regardless of manufacturer, must be interchangeable. So if GM sources one of these robotic cars and the, say, steering unit fails, a replacement steering unit from any manufacturer on the Schedule must fit and work with the GM robotic car. So, yes, VW is getting a big one-time payoff from selling their blueprints to the government, but the real winners are the manufacturers who get sourcing contracts awarded from the government's schedule. The US government is required by law to source its goods and services from American companies first, and foreign companies only as a very last resort. Even among American companies, no one company is allowed to have a monopoly on the government schedule. To keep things fair, Government acquisition officers are required to rotate their sourcing companies every time they make a purchase. To make you feel even better about it all, from the US government's perspective, this was an exceedingly small expenditure of funds. Contracts have to be at least $100 million to get any notice, and that's just the entry level. In the US Government, there are some weekly meetings, I kid you not, that cost $7 million. Whatever VW got, it is paltry compared to what the American manufacturers will get when the specs come up on the schedule.
      • 9 Years Ago
      "You know from reading posts on this blog site that 80% of the people are not going to agree with you that just any old 4 wheel drive could have done it" I never said any 4WD vehicle could do it; I believe that a 4WD T-Case would be a disadvantaged compared to AWD, and Fully independant suspension would be desirable, more so than live axles, because of the terrian. Of course a great engineer could do it by starting with nothing but some paper, pencil, and a ruler. "Sorry I can't bring it up in this free country of ours." I can't remember who said this, but it is one of my favortie quotes: "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously."
      • 9 Years Ago
      So for those of you who are clueless and ass-u-me things. No I don't go around saying the 'H' word all the time. I thought it was common knowledge the direct link and reason for existence of VW when I was fired up that our military is paying them. I don't use the 'H' word everytime Germany is mentioned. I really didn't realize so many were unaware of the particular facts involved here (I learned even more reading the link I gave above). If you still think I have no right to be offended with whole thing, it's a free country, more power to you. BTW, md, you are correct you did not say any 4WD do it, you said this: "They probably would have won if they had used any other truck or SUV." Open discussions are a great thing. Thanks, I've learned a lot.
      • 9 Years Ago
      #2, what the hell? We beat the Germans. That's in the past. Like 60 years past. One of the reasons they picked the Touareg was because you can drive it by wire. A little hacking here and there, and the computer can handle it without as many linkages and other pesky little things that break when you're racing for two million bucks. Besides, this is step one. You can't fit a lot of supplies in a Touareg. I'm sure the Pentagon will figure out how to adapt it to Humvees and other bigger/meaner/capable-of-hauling-more-stuff vehicles by 2015 (when Congress wants 1/3 of their ground vehicles autonomous).
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