The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Stanford's New Robotic Audi TTS Knows How To Drift, Will Tackle Pikes Peak Next Year

Stanford unveils its latest robot car -- and it's an Audi TTS that's been modified with sensors, GPS guidance, and a trunkfull of computers

1 min read
Stanford's New Robotic Audi TTS Knows How To Drift, Will Tackle Pikes Peak Next Year

stanford autonomous car shelley audi

We were invited to Stanford on Thursday for a sneak peak at their latest robot car, from the family that includes Stanley and Junior. It’s an Audi TTS that’s been modified with sensors, GPS guidance, and a trunkfull of computers, but it’s not intended to drive you to work in the morning… It’s actually a race car, designed to push the limits of driving performance. Already, this TTS holds the unofficial world speed record for an autonomous car at 130 kph (edit- they meant to say 130 mph, which is a lot more impressive), but it’s capable of a whole lot more. Basically, Stanford is figuring out how close to the edge of control a car can be driven, and then they’re going to program their Audi to drive on that edge. They’ve set themselves a challenge of racing to the top of Pikes Peak sometime next year:

So what’s the point of all this besides being totally awesome? Simple: knowing how to drive a car to the limit gives you more options when it comes to things like accident avoidance. Most human drivers aren’t experienced enough (or have a fast enough reaction time) to take advantage of all of the potential escape routes that may be available when an accident is imminent, and research like this has the potential to teach intelligent cars how to save some of the 40,000 lives that are lost due to auto accidents every year.

stanford autonomous car shelley audi

UPDATE: The car’s name is Shelley, after Michèle Mouton, the most successful female rally driver ever and the first woman to win the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. She did it in an Audi, of course.

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
Horizontal
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

Keep Reading ↓Show less