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Friday, October 08, 2010

First Automatic Driving in Real City Traffic

Today for the first time, an automatic vehicle was driving in everyday city traffic in Braunschweig, Germany.  On Braunschweig’s two-lane ring road, the research vehicle “Leonie” is able to conduct challenging driving maneuvers at speeds up to 60 km/h: lane keeping, behavior at intersections, avoiding obstacles, and adjusting distances and speeds to the flowing traffic. 

The research project „Stadtpilot“ is the only research project worldwide so far that realizes automatic driving in real city traffic. Already in 2007, the TU Braunschweig participated successfully in the DARPA Urban Challenge, the worldwide leading competition for autonomous vehicles: with the 2006 VW Passat Variant “Caroline”, the team CarOLO was in the finals as one of 11 teams out of the initial 89. Based on these experiences, an interdisciplinary team from three different faculties has now developed the follow-up “Leonie”.
Leonie is a VW Passat station wagon, 2.0 TDI. With satellite positioning the vehicle can calculate its position in the traffic. Thanks to various laser scanners and radar sensors, Leonie can perceive its environment continuously and process the data. 
(Source/Image: TU Brainschweig)

One of the first truly autonomous cars was the VaMP driverless car along with its twin vehicle, the VITA-2. Developed by the team of Ernst Dickmanns at the Bundeswehr University of Munich and Mercedes Benz as part of the ECU EUREKA Prometheus Project on autonomous vehicles (1987-1995). VaMP was able to drive in heavy traffic for long distances without human intervention, using computer vision to recognize rapidly moving obstacles such as other cars, and automatically avoid and pass them. 

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