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Monday, March 02 2015 @ 07:01 AM PST

Autonomous Car At Thunderhill Raceway

General News


Forget the DeLorean... the real car of the future hit the road today in Willows as a team of mechanical engineers from Stanford tested their self driving car at Thunderhill Raceway.

Thousands of race cars take to the track at Thunderhill Raceway every year... but they usually have a driver at the wheel. That wasn't the case Thursday, as a team from Stanford University tested their autonomous self-driving car on the road course.

Lead researcher Dr. Chris Gerdes says, "we're trying to develop a car which can race around a track at the same level as the best human drivers." The Mechanical Engineering team has been working on the technology inside the Audi for several years. It has hit speeds of over 150 miles and hour at the Salt Flats... and topped 100 miles an hour Thursday at Thunderhill. Dr. Lene Harbott says, "our main goal of course is to make driving safer, but I have to say the reason people love cars so much is not because they're totally safe, they're really fun...people are really passionate about their cars."

In addition to testing the robot car, the Stanford team also put Thunderhill President David Vodden behind the wheel to see how real drivers react under the same driving conditions. Vodden says, "they're using me as a baseline in some ways for the data, so it's a real opportunity to drive this Audi TT and have all this technology involved with it."

While full self-driving cars are still decades away, a lot of the technology being tested in Willows could end up making your commute safer in the near future!