Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.
(VWGoA) and Stanford University's School of Engineering today unveiled the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL), the next step in the evolution of the two organizations' commitment to drive innovation in automotive development.
The Volkswagen Group has donated $5.75 million to the creation of VAIL, including $2 million for building construction and another $750,000 a year for five years to fund research and teaching activities where Stanford researchers and international visiting scholars will work with automotive equipment manufacturers and Silicon Valley experts.
This continued collaboration builds on Stanford and VWGoA's already successful partnership, including the development of the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge winner. Stanley, an autonomous driving Touareg, is now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Stanley was followed in 2007 with an autonomous driving Passat wagon, Junior, that was runner up in the DARPA Urban Challenge.
"Stanford and Volkswagen are ideal partners. This collaboration can draw on a long-standing relationship between the Volkswagen Group and Stanford, which continues to increase the exchange between industrial and academic talent. The Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab takes this partnership one step further, and is focused on the university's campus," said Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, chairman and chief executive, Bentley Motors. "The goals are to accelerate automotive-related research on campus, increase opportunities for collaboration between the VW Group and Stanford, and build a global community of academic and industrial partners committed to the future of automotive research. The focus will be vehicle safety, mobility and environmental performance."
The VWGoA and Stanford reception is Saturday, October 24 from 4:30-6:30pm and will include nearly 500 invited attendees. Tomorrow's private reception is open to the media. Located near the corner of Stock Farm Rd. and Campus Drive West., it will offer a variety of activities including:
- Driving and parking demonstrations with some of the industry's most innovative autonomous vehicles, including Junior jointly developed by the VW Group and Stanford;
- A public showing of models and plans for the building housing VAIL, which currently is under construction on the campus;
- An unveiling of the newest iteration of driverless vehicles, the Pikes Peak Audi TT-S;
- Presentations and demonstrations by various VW Group executives, university officials and Stanford engineering students.
"When the new building opens early next year, VAIL will provide a home on campus for faculty and students from around the university to work on advanced automotive research," said Jim Plummer, dean of the Stanford School of Engineering. "Transportation is a globally important area in which engineers play a vital role. We look forward to years of productive collaboration with industry in our research and thank Volkswagen for their partnership and support for this work."
The first VAIL workshop was held in November 2008 at the 15th World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in New York. Highlights included Junior autonomously driving through downtown New York and the unveiling the Audi Clean Air Initiative - the vision of linked, intelligent vehicles that are able to interact with each other and their drivers, with the goal of preserving the environment.
Through its Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL), Volkswagen has the largest research presence of any automaker in the Bay Area. Founded in 1998, the ERL includes more than 50 engineers and staff and is one of the company's centers of ideas and innovation for the Volkswagen Group worldwide. The ERL takes a unique, Silicon Valley approach to giving drivers a safer, eco-friendly and more enjoyable driving experience. This has led to numerous driver assisted technologies and communication tools that help drivers stay safer behind the wheel, such as Apple iPhone integration, 3D graphics, speech recognition and LED headlights. "By partnering with a prestigious university such as Stanford, we've built a global community of academic and industry professionals that are committed to the future of automotive research," said Dr. Burkhard Huhnke, executive director, Electronics Research Laboratory, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. "Our event is intended to showcase the successful partnership between VW and Stanford that has helped drive automobile innovation into the future."
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