A ringer in the robot car race

Team Lux, sponsored by sensor maker Sick, enters DARPA's robot car race.

This robot car needs only three sensors.
This robot car needs only three sensors. Team Lux

We are eagerly looking forward to the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge, coming this fall, if only to see what kind of damage the robot cars involved will wreak on the course. But we just got hip to one pretty professional entrant, Team Lux. This team is sponsored by Sick, a German company that makes the sensors many teams relied on for the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. It's unlikely that Sick would give its own team an edge by withholding sensors from the other team, but the fact that the Team Lux members are all former employees of Sick's automotive division, Ibeo, it would seem they have an edge.

The Team Lux car, a Volkwagen Passat TDI wagon, doesn't sound particularly advanced. Lux brags on its Web site that the car doesn't look like a robot car, unlike the 2005 Grand Challenge entrants with sensors sticking out all over the place. The Lux car will have just two laser sensors in front and one in back. Although the sensors seem minimal, the team says it gives the car 360 degree detection. But sensors are easy--the difficult part is processing that information into something useful that the car can react to. Sick's Ibeo division has that covered, as it has been working on shape recognition software for almost 10 years. We will be reporting from the Urban Grand Challenge, letting you know the progress of Team Lux and the other entrants, this fall.

(Found on Intelligent Vehicle Source.)

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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