According to AutoBlog.com the first ever "driverless" vehicle plans on competing in the 88th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The vehicle was created by a team of researches out of Stanford University. This year's race will take place on Sunday, June 27, 2009. Registration is now open.
Many hope that the record to reach the top will finally "break the 9's" as previous champion Nobuhiro Tajima's record time for the Unlimited Division is 10 minutes, 1.408 seconds in his Suzuki XL7 Hill Climb Special. Whether it's the first driverless drifter, a 9 minute record or both, 2010 is a can't-miss for this "race to the clouds".
About the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the second oldest motor sports race in America and a long-standing tradition in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region. First competed in 1916 and this year marks the 88th running of the "Race to the Clouds."
The race is run on a 12.42 mile course with 156 turns that begins at 9,390 feet and finishes at the 14,110 foot summit of America's Mountain; Pikes Peak! As the drivers climb toward the summit, the thin air slows reflexes and saps muscle strength. The thin air also robs engines of 30% of their power at the summit. Competitors and vehicles must be in top shape simply to finish...let alone win!
* The Stanford team has not contacted the Hill Climb directly and is not currently registered as an official competitor. More information to come as made available.
If you read AutoblogGreen regularly, then you already know that Volkswagen and Stanford University have taken their relationship that began with developing autonomous vehicles to compete in the government-sponsored DARPA Grand Challenge competitions to the next level. VW has committed over $5 million to open the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab on Stanford's campus with the intent of taking their research further regardless of whether the government is offering a carrot or not.
The two organizations are kicking off their new commitment to autonomous vehicles in a big way. Already under development is a the third-gen autonomous vehicle will make past DARPA Grand Challenge winners Stanley and Junior look obsolete by comparison. Based on an Audi TT-S, the new vehicle eschews all the outwardly visible hardware and has one expressed purpose: to tackle the Pikes Peak Hill Climb just like a real rally driver, four wheel drifts and all.
While still in the early stages, the team of researchers from Stanford have already performed tests with the autonomous TT-S at the Bonneville Salt Flats where the car was free to roam while being driving at the limit without a driver. They've also reportedly visited Pikes Peak with the car and ran it up the hill, albeit slowly.