Volkswagen Teams With Stanford on a $5.75-Million Auto Think Tank
Not to be outdone by Lamborghini's recent investment in an advanced composites lab at the University of Washington, Volkswagen has announced its own $5.75 million outlay to underwrite a new joint effort at Stanford University aimed at accelerating all types of automotive-related technologies. Officially the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL), it will complement VW's Electronics Research Laboratory, which also is located in Palo Alto, California. Volkswagen has been working with Stanford since 2005 when the two created an autonomous Touareg called "Stanley" that went on to win the DARPA Grand Challenge and followed it up in 2007 with a hands-free Passat entry dubbed "Junior" that took second spot in the annual Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency competition. As part of this new undertaking, VW will pony up $2 million for new buildings and support future VAIL studies with a $750,000 annual stipend for the next five years starting in 2010. One of the initial projects will be to put the finishing touches on an autonomous Audi TT-S that, sans driver, will attempt to navigate the challenging 12.42-mile/156-turn Pikes Peak hillclimb course sometime next year. The VAIL facility also will be home to continuing work on elements of the Audi Clean Air Initiative, a program whose goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by more effectively controlling the interaction between cars, drivers and real-time traffic conditions.