Autonomous Vehicle Record Set at VIRginia International Raceway
DANVILLE, VA. – A record of a different sort was set today at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR). This record wasn’t set by a driver, but rather by Insight Racing’s N.C. State University-sponsored “Lone Wolf,” a Lotus Elise sports car modified to drive itself from one place to another. This completely robotic vehicle drove the Full Course at VIR in just over 6 minutes, topping out at 49 mph.
The Lone Wolf is NCSU College of Engineering’s entry in the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Urban Challenge project to develop fully autonomous vehicles capable of operating in a city environment with no human intervention. The Urban Challenge race is scheduled for November 3rd. The Urban Challenge project is intended to allow the military to have one-third of its vehicles with this self driving ability by 2015.
Recently tested at VIRginia International Raceway, the Lone Wolf successfully completed several laps of the 3.27-mile natural terrain road course at increasing speeds. “The top speed in the Urban Challenge is 30 mph, but with a beautiful Lotus Elise at fabulous Virginia International Raceway, we couldn’t resist the urge to drive the Lone Wolf fast,” said Grayson Randall, Founder of Insight Racing. “After some tuning overnight we had a great run Thursday morning, knocking almost two minutes off our official time from Wednesday.” The VIR event was sponsored by Lotus of Durham, in Durham, N.C.
The quick times actually led to a well-documented and humorous incident when the car dropped two tires off into the grass and in returning to the track, spun out. According to VIR officicals, this is a common maneuver for novice drivers. The spin resulted in more amusement than concern as the team crowded around a video camera to play and replay the incident. Video of the spin can be viewed on YouTube at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=edFUCSBLjN8.
The next public appearance of Lone Wolf is planned for August 15 at Comtrol Corporation’s headquarters in Maple Grove, Minnesota. Comtrol is one of the team sponsors.
"We are happy to be able to host the tests of Lone Wolf at VIR" said General Manager Josh Lief, "but of course we're pulling for the Hokies", Lief said with a smile. "With VIPER and JOUSTER on our Motorsports Technology Park, this is just one more way VIR is being used for something other than racing cars."
Insight Racing (www.insightracing.org) is a robotic vehicle racing team sponsored by NC State University, Lotus Engineering, Insight Technollogies, The Advanced Vehicle Research Center, SAS, Northrop Grumman, NC CAR, Comtrol Corporation, Smith Anderson, Ascot Technologies, Auto Europe, BDMICRO LLC, PC MedEvac, Tekelec, Automation Direct, Cinnamon Peripherals, DataWatt Solutions, NC Global TransPark, Four Brothers Auto, gridconnect, Lotus of Durham, Novatel, OmniSTAR, PEAK system technik, Revware, Sanford Lee County Regional Airport, and Yokohama Tires. Insight Racing’s Lone Wolf has been featured in the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet Show and will be featured in a BBC Special called “The Future” which is scheduled to air worldwide this fall. To sponsor the team or for more information, contact Walt Sliva at (919) 931-1118 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Virginia. Reopened in 2000, VIR hosts a wide range professional and amateur auto and motorcycle racing and track events, and is well established as “America’s Motorsport Resort.” In addition to its historic 3.27 mile natural-terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park and Motorsports Technology Park, which includes the Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research (“VIPER”); the Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8 mile paved natural terrain karting circuit; an expanding variety of on-site lodging (including 45 hotel rooms and the trackside Villas which are for sale); Camp Motorsport for enthusiasts of all ages; and Oak Tree Tavern, a full-service restaurant located within the circa-1840 Plantation Clubhouse.
VIR’s next major event is the August 17-19 Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals AMA Superbike races. The racing is only a small part of the weekend’s planned festivities, so make arrangements now to attend. Tickets are available online at the promoter’s web site, www.moto1usa.com, or by calling the promoter’s ticket sales at 770-965-4565 or 770-965-4566.