Volkswagen Electronics Research Lab

Ganymed Stanek, Volkswagen of America, Inc., Electronics Research Lab, talks about Volkswagen’s partnership with Stanford, inside of an unmanned Volkswagen Passat. Volkswagen worked with Stanford on Stanley, Stanford’s first car that won the race in 2005, winning Stanford 2 million dollars. Keep in mind, nobody is actually driving the car.


The DARPA Grand Challenge is a prize competition for driverless cars, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research organization of the United States Department of Defense. Congress has authorized DARPA to award cash prizes to further DARPAs mission to sponsor revolutionary, high-payoff research that bridges the gap between fundamental discoveries and their use for national security. DARPA has sponsored two competitions and announced a third using the “Grand Challenge” prize authority, all in the area of autonomous vehicles. DARPA is not restricted from conducting Grand Challenge competitions in other areas in the future.

The first Grand Challenge took place on March 13, 2004, on a desert course stretching from Barstow, California to Primm, Nevada, but did not produce a finisher. At the second DARPA Grand Challenge, held on October 8, 2005, the Stanford Racing Team completed the 212.4 km (132-mile) course in just under 7 hours to win a US$2M prize.

Both the first and second DARPA Grand Challenge competitions advanced the technologies needed to create the first fully autonomous ground vehicles capable of completing a substantial off-road course within a limited time. The third event, The DARPA Urban Challenge, scheduled to take place on November 3, 2007, further advances vehicle requirements to include autonomous operation in a mock urban environment.