Lotus Elise



November 15, 2006

Leading engineering firm and sports car manufacturer Lotus is the newest sponsor for Insight Racing in the next Grand Challenge. The Urban Challenge is the third in a series of US Government Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored races created to advance unmanned vehicle driving technology more rapidly. The need for this technology is in answer to a congressional mandate to convert one-third of the military vehicles to driverless, computer-driven mode by 2015.

The newest Grand Challenge, the Urban Challenge, is an open competition where full sized computerized vehicles will drive in city conditions for up to 6 hours with no human intervention whatsoever. In the Urban Challenge, these robotic vehicles will drive on city streets, avoid obstacles, stop at intersections, maneuver traffic circles, park, pass traffic and determine the best way to accomplish a mission assigned by DARPA. Vehicles will be required to follow California driving laws in the event. The final event is scheduled for November 3, 2007.

The Insight Racing team is a cooperative effort formed in 2003 to develop autonomous robotics solutions. The team is sponsored by NC State University and North Carolina businesses. The team includes several NC State University students, faculty and alumni.

“Lotus is happy to support Insight Racing in the Urban Challenge,” said Don Graunstadt, Chief Executive Officer & President of Lotus Engineering. “We are impressed with Insight’s proven record and are looking forward to working together. Driving exciting technology leadership is the foundation of activities at Lotus Engineering .” As part of the sponsorship, Lotus Cars USA will provide an Elise to Insight Racing for the race and Lotus Engineering in Ann Arbor Michigan will contribute the controls interface engineering.

“We are proud to have Lotus as a sponsor. Their leadership will certainly contribute greatly to our efforts.” said Grayson Randall, Insight Racing founder. “The development of this smart vehicle technology has many applications and will ultimately change how we drive in the not too distant future.”

“While the technology is being developed for defense purposes, it has potential for spin-off into everyday life,” said Dr. Robert Fornaro, NCSU professor of computer science and director of the Senior Design Center. Under Dr. Fornaro’s direction, Computer Science students at NCSU have utilized aspects of the Grand Challenge in their Senior Design Projects.

Dick Dell, Executive Director of the Advanced Vehicle Research Center feels that this effort is advancing the state’s position as an automotive leader. “It is exciting to think about the many ways this technology will change the automotive industry. It is great to see North Carolina in a leadership position with this powerful Lotus-Insight partnership.” Insight Racing plans to use the Advanced Vehicle Research Center when testing the vehicle.

Other sponsors include: Comtrol, SICK, Ascot Technologies, Inc., BD Micro, and PC MedEvac.