PALO ALTO, CA – Scientists are developing the next generation of robot-driven cars and predict they could be shuttling humans around by the year 2030, according to the Web site The first wave of intelligent robot cars, capable of understanding and reacting to the world around them, will be tested November 3 in a competition run by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Scientists are developing vehicles that will not only be driven by robots independently, but will be able to operate in a simulated city environment. Sebastian Thrun, an associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford University, recently spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Francisco about the topic. Thrun is a member of the Stanford team participating in the DARPA competition. Stanford’s entrant “Junior” is a converted 2006 Volkswagen Passat whose steering, throttle, and brakes all have been modified by engineers to be completely computer-controllable, according to the Web site An array of lasers are fitted on the car bumpers, and radar and global positioning systems feed data into the onboard computer to determine its location and position. Thrun predicted that leaps in artificial intelligence would lead to driverless cars on the roads by 2030. He also said he believed robot-driven vehicles would be deployed in war zones before they are seen in everyday civilian environments.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials