Lifting the VAIL: Volkswagen Group, Stanford University Take the Next Step in Driving Automotive Innovation

On-campus celebration of the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL) includes next-generation autonomous vehicle demonstrations and introduction of the Pikes Peak Audi TTS

Oct 23, 2009, 14:00 ET from Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWGoA) and Stanford University's School of Engineering today unveiled the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory (VAIL), the next step in the evolution of the two organizations' commitment to drive innovation in automotive development.

The Volkswagen Group has donated $5.75 million to the creation of VAIL, including $2 million for building construction and another $750,000 a year for five years to fund research and teaching activities where Stanford researchers and international visiting scholars will work with automotive equipment manufacturers and Silicon Valley experts.

This continued collaboration builds on Stanford and VWGoA's already successful partnership, including the development of the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge winner. Stanley, an autonomous driving Touareg, is now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Stanley was followed in 2007 with an autonomous driving Passat wagon, Junior, that was runner up in the DARPA Urban Challenge.

"Stanford and Volkswagen are ideal partners. This collaboration can draw on a long-standing relationship between the Volkswagen Group and Stanford, which continues to increase the exchange between industrial and academic talent. The Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab takes this partnership one step further, and is focused on the university's campus," said Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, chairman and chief executive, Bentley Motors. "The goals are to accelerate automotive-related research on campus, increase opportunities for collaboration between the VW Group and Stanford, and build a global community of academic and industrial partners committed to the future of automotive research. The focus will be vehicle safety, mobility and environmental performance."

The VWGoA and Stanford reception is Saturday, October 24 from 4:30-6:30pm and will include nearly 500 invited attendees. Tomorrow's private reception is open to the media. Located near the corner of Stock Farm Rd. and Campus Drive West., it will offer a variety of activities including:

  • Driving and parking demonstrations with some of the industry's most innovative autonomous vehicles, including Junior jointly developed by the VW Group and Stanford;
  • A public showing of models and plans for the building housing VAIL, which currently is under construction on the campus;
  • An unveiling of the newest iteration of driverless vehicles, the Pikes Peak Audi TT-S;
  • Presentations and demonstrations by various VW Group executives, university officials and Stanford engineering students.

"When the new building opens early next year, VAIL will provide a home on campus for faculty and students from around the university to work on advanced automotive research," said Jim Plummer, dean of the Stanford School of Engineering. "Transportation is a globally important area in which engineers play a vital role. We look forward to years of productive collaboration with industry in our research and thank Volkswagen for their partnership and support for this work."

The first VAIL workshop was held in November 2008 at the 15th World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in New York. Highlights included Junior autonomously driving through downtown New York and the unveiling the Audi Clean Air Initiative - the vision of linked, intelligent vehicles that are able to interact with each other and their drivers, with the goal of preserving the environment.

Through its Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL), Volkswagen has the largest research presence of any automaker in the Bay Area. Founded in 1998, the ERL includes more than 50 engineers and staff and is one of the company's centers of ideas and innovation for the Volkswagen Group worldwide. The ERL takes a unique, Silicon Valley approach to giving drivers a safer, eco-friendly and more enjoyable driving experience. This has led to numerous driver assisted technologies and communication tools that help drivers stay safer behind the wheel, such as Apple iPhone integration, 3D graphics, speech recognition and LED headlights.

"By partnering with a prestigious university such as Stanford, we've built a global community of academic and industry professionals that are committed to the future of automotive research," said Dr. Burkhard Huhnke, executive director, Electronics Research Laboratory, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. "Our event is intended to showcase the successful partnership between VW and Stanford that has helped drive automobile innovation into the future."

About Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, the world's third-largest automaker and the largest carmaker in Europe. It houses the U.S. operations of a worldwide family of distinguished and exciting brands including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen, as well as VW Credit, Inc. Founded in 1955, the company's headquarters are in Herndon, Va.

Volkswagen Group of America brings to the U.S. vehicles that marry the science of engineering and the art of styling, with the goal of offering attractive, safe, and environmentally sound automobiles that are competitive and set world standards in their respective classes.

The company has approximately 2,500 employees in the United States and sells its vehicles through an 800-strong dealer network. With increasing popularity for its brands in the U.S., the company has set the goal of reaching one million car sales in the country by 2018.

SOURCE Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.