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Stanford Researchers' Audi to Climb Pikes Peak Without a Driver

By The Associated Press

April 9, 2010

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It can traverse rough terrain, accelerate quickly and negotiate sharp turns like other high-performance sports cars, but there's one thing that sets this Audi coupe apart: It doesn't need a driver.

The car, named Shelley, is the latest creation by Stanford University researchers who are developing technology that could help make driving safer and one day allow ordinary vehicles to drive on their own.

The self-driving car will face its biggest test this fall at Colorado's Pikes Peak, home of the world-famous International Hill Climb that has bedeviled professional drivers with its steep grades and treacherous switchbacks since 1916.

Automotive researchers have already designed experimental vehicles that can drive long distances or navigate city streets without a driver. With Shelley--named after Michelle Mouton, the first woman to win the Pikes Peak race--the Stanford team is developing a car that can drive at high speeds under extreme conditions.

"What we're trying to do is create an autonomous race car, an autonomous rally car, so a car that can drive itself up to the very limits of handling," said Christian Gerdes, a Stanford engineering professor who directs the university's Center for Automotive Research.

From The Associated Press
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