We first heard about the latest autonomous driving project from Stanford University and the Volkswagen Group a couple of weeks ago. Audi has released some more information on the car, a TT-S coupe that, like its predecessors, Stanley and Junior, has a name: Shelley. Shelley’s being developed to climb Colorado’s Pikes Peak without any driver intervention during the annual hill climb next July.
Audi and Stanford’s Dynamics Design Lab have managed to dramatically reduce the size of the equipment necessary for the car and its control system to detect the surroundings and respond accordingly. That it can all fit into the compact TT’s body while sprouting just a trio of sensors from roof is quite an accomplishment. One of the goals of this year’s effort is to have the car perform the way it would with a professional rally driver at the wheel, including drifting on the gravel. As of its name, “Shelley” refers to the nickname of Michelle Mouton, the most successful female rally driver of all time and the first woman to win at Pikes Peak, a feat she accomplished behind the wheel of the legendary Audi Sport Quattro in 1985.