Driver-less car in high-speed rally.
Imagine driving at top speed on a steep, winding mountain pass in the Alps, or the Himalayas, or the Rocky Mountains.
Now, take your hands off the steering wheel and cover your eyes. Or grab a camera and take some pictures of the snowy mountain peaks. Or send a text message to a friend describing the scenery. You'd skid off the road and plunge into a deep ravine within seconds, right? Not if a group of graduate students at Stanford University can program the car to drive itself.
The mechanical engineering students are creating an autonomous -- or driverless -- car that they plan to race up and down the treacherous Pikes Peak highway in the Rocky Mountains next year. The vehicle is the latest creation of a Stanford team, funded in part by Volkswagen, that in recent years has won awards for speed and manoeuvrability in competitions among unmanned cars.
The students say programming a car to run by itself up a curving mountain road is more than simply an engineering exercise; it's a way of creating and testing safety systems they hope one day will be used in all vehicles.