Say hello to another one of the cars of tomorrow, a Volkswagen Passat modified by supplier Continental that can drive itself. It recently clocked over 6000 test miles, and is on its way to add thousands more.
The Continental Passat now joins the ranks of cars like Google's army of autonomous Toyota Prii in the arena of cars that can drive themselves. But the two cars are a bit different: while Google's Prii are able to drive themselves almost completely, the Continental technology works more like auto-pilot, taking over from the driver for some period of time.
The Continental setup uses long-range radar as well as four short-range radars--two up front, two out back--to find obstacles or detect traffic and deal accordingly. The automated mode connects to the Passat's drive-by-wire throttle and brake, as well as the electric power steering rack. The result is a car that operates similar to Google's in that the car can drive long stretches without driver input, but the Continental system will shut off once the driver hits the turnstalk or if the driver falls asleep.
Looking at the world of autonomous cars, there are three camps: the first is the current crop of technologies that can detect obstacles and stop to avoid them (like Volvo's City Safety), while the second is a fully autonomous car, like Google's Prius. Continental's Passat fits neatly in the middle.
Motor Trend caught up with the car in northern Michigan after it had completed about 6500 miles of testing, and is looking to top 10,000 by the end of this month. Once the car exceeds 10,000 miles of real-world testing, it can be registered in Nevada, one of the few states in the union that allows autonomous cars to be registered.
Source: Motor Trend