Stanley: Toward a New Kind of War

July 2024 – Fall/Winter 2026
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“Stanley” is a driverless vehicle modified from a Volkswagen Touareg. Special Features include radar systems, stereo cameras, a “monocular vision system,” GPS receivers, and innovative computer software that enables “Stanley” to maneuver independently. Photo Courtesy of Stanford Racing.

National Museum of American History
1300 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

3rd Floor, East Wing

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"Stanley," the self-driving winner of a historic robotic vehicle race in 2005, will become the landmark object on the east wing of the museum’s third floor, connecting the military and political history exhibitions. At the time of "Stanley’s" development, the U.S. was looking to military-sponsored innovation and political need to reduce casualties and broaden the role of robots during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The blue Volkswagen Touareg competed in the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge robot race. Made by a Stanford University team of faculty and students in collaboration with Volkswagen and a number of corporate sponsors, the vehicle helped revolutionize driverless car technology. It was developed at a time when major corporations were just forming the idea and few states approved them for road use.