Stanley may have put Stanford on the map, but Junior wants to put the map away entirely and just go it alone. Part of the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, an unmanned vehicle competition, Junior is Stanford’s entry; and considering their track record, is sure to be a strong showing among the fierce competitors. Junior has some big shoes to fill though, as Stanley did take home the crown of the 2005 DARPA Challenge, a feat that required it to traverse 132 miles of barely charted desert land without any direct human intervention. For the 2007 DARPA Challenge, vehicles will travel through a 60-mile urban area course, obeying all traffic regulations, negotiating other traffic and obstacles, and merging into traffic, all on their own.
Junior isn’t just any old driverless car though; it features every gadget and gizmo an intelligent car could wish for, including a 360-degree laser rangefinder, bumper mounted lasers, RADAR, GPS, and a whole bunch of other things that are so complicated they are referred to by acronym only. Make sure to tune in November 3 to find out if Junior can continue Stanford’s excellence, or if a new king of the driverless town will be crowned.