BBC to Feature NC State-Sponsored "Lone Wolf" Autonomous Vehicle
While preparing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge next November, the Insight Racing team’s driverless Lotus Elise is heading for TV screens worldwide with its latest filming by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Dubbed the Lone Wolf, the Lotus sports car, complete with sensors and on-board computers, has been selected to demonstrate how automotive technology will affect our lives in the BBC Show “The Future.” Filming of the automotive segment was completed this week at North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus.
The BBC filming features the Lotus Elise driving autonomously, with no human or remote control, while the show’s host, Professor Michio Kaku, sits casually in the moving car describing how this futuristic vehicle will change transportation in the not too distant future.
The Lone Wolf, which has also been filmed for Discovery Channel’s “Daily Planet” show, is a completely computer-driven vehicle. The team is preparing the car for the Urban Challenge, the third in a series of Grand Challenge robotic vehicle races sponsored by DARPA.
The Grand Challenge competition was created to answer a congressional mandate to convert one-third of the military vehicles to driverless, computer-driven mode by 2015. The objective of the competition is to have teams design a completely autonomous vehicle that can maneuver with no human assistance through an urban setting while avoiding obstacles. The technology developed for the race will help DARPA reach its goal of having the autonomous vehicles perform missions that currently put military personnel in harm’s way.
“Lotus Engineering is excited by our collective progress towards solving the Urban Challenge,” said Don Graunstadt, Chief Executive Officer and President of Lotus Engineering, Inc. “We have a strong relationship which brings many types of engineering talents together in our Lotus Elise entry. Driving exciting technology leadership is the foundation of activities at Lotus Engineering.”
“We are pleased that the BBC selected Insight Racing to showcase our smartcar capabilities in a segment on future vehicle technologies.” said Grayson Randall, Insight Racing founder.
The only team representing North Carolina in the 2005 Grand Challenge, the Insight Racing team faces several elimination rounds to advance to the final Urban Challenge event in November 2007. The next elimination round includes a video of the Lone Wolf demonstrating many of the driving behaviors needed in the November event. That video is due in April.
“Our development is progressing well, and we are very pleased with the performance of the Lone Wolf. We are fortunate to have a top-performing vehicle and a highly talented team composed of students from NC State University, Lotus, members of the Triangle technical community and retired business executives,” said Randall.
The Insight Racing team is the product of collaboration between Insight Technologies Inc., Lotus Engineering Inc., NC State University’s College of Engineering and the Advanced Vehicle Research Center (AVRC). Other sponsors include SAS, Comtrol, Ascot Technologies Inc., Auto Europe, BD Micro, Have A Nice Day Wireless, Global Transpark, Grid Connect, Peak System Technik, PC MedEvac, Revware, Sanford-Lee Airport, Smith Anderson and Tekelec.
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