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The Electronic Research Laboratory – Volkswagen of America, Palo Alto


That was great!

ParkAssist enables automatic parking, using front and rear ultrasonic sensors to detect available parking space and a control unit to calculate the ideal manoeuvring path. Acoustic and visual displays guide the driver to the correct parking start position, then once reverse gear is selected the car parks itself in under 15 seconds. All the driver has to do in this time is accelerate and brake – the Touran does all the steering. The system has been available since June 2007.

The Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL)

Having been invited by Burkhard Hunke, Director of the ERL at the MIT European Career Fair (Rueckblick von Brainpower-Austria), I arrived in Palo Alto on Tuesday, in the early afternoon.

Besides driving the Touran I got to see the entire laboratory and pretty much met the entire team of the ERL. It was a great time! On Wednesday night, before driving to the airport, we went to an amazing steak restaurant on the 50th-something floor of a skyscraper with a view of the entire San Fransisco Bay, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge – amazing! I didnt know that the bridge got its name in 1848 during the time of the big gold fever. At this time thousands of gold diggers came on their ships through the waters to the harbor of San Francisco. The gold fever brought much wealth and the name for the bridge was settled.

The ERL supports all brands within the Volkswagen Group. This includes Volkswagen, Skoda, Bentley, and Bugatti as well as Audi, Seat, and Lamborghini. In addition to working with research and development teams in Germany, the ERL also supports the development of U.S.-specific features at the Volkswagen of America headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.


A great project coming from Stanford University and the ERL is the autonomous vehicle VW Touareg, called Stanley, which won the DARPA Grand Challenge and $2 million. Now it sparks inquiries from entrepreneurs and defense contractors. „Herbie, meet Stanley.“

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