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Fully autonomous, driverless vehicles to be demonstrated at ITS World Congress

San Antonio -  Nov. 13, 2008 -  From Nov. 17-20, New York City is closing down five city blocks on 11th Avenue to provide a glimpse of what the future of surface transportation might look like as three fully autonomous, driverless ground vehicles negotiate urban traffic scenarios. Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®)  is coordinating and participating in the autonomous vehicle demonstrations at the 15th Annual World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems, bringing together leaders in the field of autonomous vehicles to demonstrate next-generation ITS technologies.

SwRI's driverless vehicle will interact with autonomous vehicles developed by teams from Carnegie Mellon University/General Motors and Stanford University/Volkswagen. Specials guests will have the opportunity to be chauffeured by the driverless vehicles during the demonstrations, which will take place every day of the Congress from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on 11th Avenue.

Among the scenarios the autonomous vehicles will sense and navigate are a U-turn, closed lanes, avoiding a stalled vehicle and passing a slow-moving vehicle. The three driverless vehicles will also interact at a number of intersections.

"Over the past several decades, improvements to surface infrastructure and vehicle safety systems have reduced the number of fatalities around the world. However, a significant number of vehicle accidents are still attributable to driver error," said Ryan Lamm, SwRI intelligent vehicle systems manager. "Removing the driver from scenario could provide a safer, more environmentally friendly and more convenient way for people to commute."

As a leader in ITS technologies, SwRI developed its autonomous vehicle and related technologies through a $5 million internal research and development program called the Southwest Safe Transport Initiative. SSTI is charged with developing enabling technologies to provide cars, trucks and tractors with active safety and autonomous capabilities to improve safety and mobility in urban traffic environments. The other teams in the demonstration were successful participants in the 2007 DARPA challenges aimed at accelerating the development of autonomous vehicle technologies for military applications.

Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, SwRI is one of the oldest and largest independent, nonprofit, applied research and development organizations in the United States, providing creative solutions to complex problems for 60 years. The Institute is uniquely qualified to support the intelligent transportation, automotive and related industries, overcoming today's technical challenges and meeting tomorrow's goals in transportation systems.

Editors: For news, images, and video, please see itsmedia.swri.org

For more information contact Deb Schmid at (210) 522-2254, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.

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