If you read AutoblogGreen regularly, then you already know that Volkswagen and Stanford University have taken their relationship that began with developing autonomous vehicles to compete in the government-sponsored DARPA Grand Challenge competitions to the next level. VW has committed over $5 million to open the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab on Stanford’s campus with the intent of taking their research further regardless of whether the government is offering a carrot or not.
The two organizations are kicking off their new commitment to autonomous vehicles in a big way. Already under development is a the third-gen autonomous vehicle will make past DARPA Grand Challenge winners Stanley and Junior look obsolete by comparison. Based on an Audi TT-S, the new vehicle eschews all the outwardly visible hardware and has one expressed purpose: to tackle the Pikes Peak Hill Climb just like a real rally driver, four wheel drifts and all.
While still in the early stages, the team of researchers from Stanford have already performed tests with the autonomous TT-S at the Bonneville Salt Flats where the car was free to roam while being driving at the limit without a driver. They’ve also reportedly visited Pikes Peak with the car and ran it up the hill, albeit slowly.
Follow the jump to check out video of Stanford’s autonomous TT-S being tested, including a nifty little trick where it traces Audi’s corporate logo in the salt. It’s just a teaser for now, but we gotta admit the idea of watching an empty TT-S tackle Pikes Peak is tantamount to finally getting that flying car we were promised.