In October, Stanford University Racing Team won a $2 million prize for a car it re-engineered to drive itself.
Now, with the check in its pocket, Stanford has decided to fund further research into on-road driving for intelligent cars, so that one day we might be able to responsibly hold a cell phone, eat breakfast or finish getting dressed in the car while commuting.
To win the DARPA Grand Challenge prize, its car, a modified VW Touareg R5, traversed 131.6 miles of desert hills, gullies and rocky roads, and beat out three other finalists to also make history in artificial intelligence and robotics.
With more research and societal advancement, "cruise control" could some day mean that your car is doing all the driving and even avoiding obstacles or collisions.
In addition, Stanford has put an unspecified portion of the money toward an endowed fellowship at Stanford, in the honor of its winning robot, "Stanley."
"So from now on there will be a graduate student who can thank Stanley for his stipend/tuition," said Sebastian Thrun, director of Stanford's AI lab.
And maybe one day, Stanley will even respond.