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Volkswagen is taking great strides in making the roads safer and remove the dangerous fun from driving by developing fully autonomous vehicles. I had a chance to talk to Dr. Burkhard Huhnke, director of the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) about the future of the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL) at Stanford University and how the technology developed there is being integrated into Volkswagen Group vehicles. You may be able to buy a real-life K.I.T.T before you know it. It probably won’t be a Pontiac though.

You may recall that Volkswagen was the first team to complete the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005 by having a fully autonomous Volkswagen Touareg SUV (his name was Stanley, btw) drive 132 miles through the Mojave Desert. Then for the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, a VW Passat Wagon took second place behind Tartan Racing team from Carnegie Mellon University in a 60 mile urban course. But those two challenges are nothing compared to what’s on tap for next year: Pikes Peak in an autonomous Audi TT-S.

A look at how the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL) is changing the world