General Motors demonstrates self-driving Chevrolet Tahoe 'Boss' at consumer electronics show

General Motors will demonstrate an unmanned Chevrolet Tahoe, at the Consumer Electronics Show, that used electronics to successfully 'drive' itself through a 60-mile urban course in November to win a prestigious US Defence Department-sponsored competition. Its electronic technology is so promising that it could lead to production vehicles that eliminate the most common cause of crashes - driver error.

The Tahoe, named 'Boss', after the nickname of GM research and development founder Charles F. Kettering, was developed by Carnegie Mellon University, General Motors and other partner companies.

It uses a combination of LIDAR, radar, vision and mapping / GPS systems to see the world around it. It recognizes road geometry and perceives other traffic and obstacles on the road, and - using intelligent algorithms and computer software - figures out where it's safe to drive in order to avoid obstacles while completing the driving mission.

Boss recently navigated 60 miles of urban traffic, busy intersections and stop signs in less than six hours to win the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) 2007 Urban Challenge competition.

"Not only can we use electricity in place of gasoline to propel the next generation of vehicles, the electronic technology in vehicles such as Boss can provide society with a world in which there are no car crashes, more productive commutes and very little traffic congestion," said Larry Burns, GM Vice President,  R&D and Strategic Planning, adding that the technology in Boss is a stepping stone toward a day when commuters can do their e-mail, eat breakfast and even watch the news while being 'chauffeured' to work.

"This competition significantly advanced our understanding of what is needed to make driverless vehicles a reality as we continue to reinvent the automobile," Burns said.