News media invited to view, ride in UF’s all-new robot car

Published: June 25 2007


WHO: University of Florida engineering faculty and students who are members of Team Gator Nation. The team is developing an all new robot, or “autonomous,” car to compete in the upcoming DARPA Urban Challenge, a national competition in which competitors from around the country will try to navigate simulated urban conditions — complete with traffic, intersections and parked cars.

WHAT: Demonstration of Team Gator Nation’s extensively modified and fully autonomous Toyota Highlander hybrid. Members of the news media will have a chance to ride in the robot as it completes a course with no human driver.

WHEN: 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 27.

WHERE: Gainesville Raceway, 11211 North County Road 225.

DIRECTIONS: From East University Avenue in Gainesville, head north on Waldo Road. Turn left on Northeast 53rd Avenue, then take an immediate right on County Road 225. The Gainesville Raceway will be on the right. Follow the signs to the demonstration area.

CONTACT: David Armstrong, project manager, 352-392-9479, More information is available at See a video demonstration at

BACKGROUND: Five UF faculty members and about two dozen students have spent nearly a year modifying a 2006 Highlander to give it extensive autonomous capabilities. The Highlander now contains 11 computers that gather and interpret data from eight lasers, six cameras, four GPS units, one gyroscope and other equipment. With no assistance from a human driver, the car can remain in its lane, stop at a stop sign, negotiate intersections with other cars, pass a parked car and perform a three-point turn. Sponsored by UF, Smiths Aerospace and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Tyndall Air Force Base, the car has cost about $300,000 so far. Following a visit from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency officials last week, Team Gator Nation hopes to be selected as one of 30 teams to compete in national qualifying events for the DARPA Urban Challenge, which is set for an as yet unannounced location on Nov. 3.