• May 17, 2007
Autocrossers beware! You may remember the Volkswagen GTI 53+1 we told you about a year ago. VW engineers have outfitted this Golf with an array of computers and sensors that give the car the ability to traverse autocross courses better than most human drivers could. While the 53+1 isn't as autonomous as a Darpa Urban Challenge entrant, this video shows just exactly how far it can go without your input.

Just like flesh and blood amateur racers, the GTI 53+1 needs to slowly "walk" the course, downloading GPS points to a computer in the trunk. It then takes a few moments to analyze the course route and devise the fastest line possible. Back between the cones, the car zips through the tight curves with amazing dexterity.

The video says the car was not developed to promote future autonomous VWs (Stanford's got that covered), but instead as a way to test the company's hardware without a human driver. Eliminating a driver insures every test will be performed exactly as the one before and give consistent results each time.

The Daily Mail covered the story in 2006 and spoke to a VW engineer who said, "We called it '53' because it is reminiscent of the cinematic Volkswagen bug Herbie, which made history as the first self-driving Volkswagen. This time we've done it for real." Here's hoping this doesn't encourage another Love Bug sequel.

So, wanna see it? Follow the jump for the vid!

[Sources: Street Fire Video, Daily Mail]


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  • 10 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Epilonious, can you back up what you said?
      • 7 Years Ago
      KITT!! I need ya!
      • 7 Years Ago
      the background music is awful...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Billy,

      Of the current gen FF compact hot hatches (Civic Si, Mazdaspeed3), the GTI is pretty much the heaviest and fattest with the worst power to weight ratio. The Golf/GTI has gotten bigger every generation. While it has a nice interior... the entire point of the article is "wow, when you load this thing up with enough computer tech to compensate/anticipate all the mush and deal with its plentiful limits, it gets surprising track times, something not expected of such a mushy heavy-mobile".

      This whole thing reminds me of how Grumman's flying wing design was finally validated only after an avionics system became complex enough to compensate for all the ways an airfoil acts when it doesn't have vertical stabilizers.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I for one welcome our new autonomous autocrossing overlords.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Now move a section of cones over a foot and watch the carnage.... While this is pretty cool it can't compensate for changes in the course like a human. A human will still be faster if both a human and the computer tackled a course blind, without a prior walk around. Still very cool though, I'd like to race it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is a better clip of the car, in my opinion (from Fifth Gear): http://youtube.com/watch?v=CjzQxIXh2DI
      • 7 Years Ago
      Can I order mine through Dell?
      • 7 Years Ago
      All I want is for that woman to shut the hell up. There's not a single engine note or tire squeal in the entire video! Lame.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So this car will be engineered to run and perform perfectly for a robot? I don't understand why you don't want human data when a human will be driving it and operating it differently? A human will be able to give more accurate 'feel' input than a computer.