Yesterday, a Volkswagen Passat drove around a parking lot in Mountain View, CA, made three-point turns, and followed the rules at a four-way stop–all without human intervention. The computer-controlled car is named Junior, and it’s Stanford University’s official entry in the DARPA Urban Challenge, a race in which an autonomous car must navigate city streets, obey traffic laws, avoid obstructions, and, crucially, drive well among other cars in traffic. This test run is Junior’s first public appearance, designed to let DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) test the car and determine if it proceeds to the next round in the Urban Challenge.
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