In honor of National Autonomous Vehicle Day on May 31st, VSI Labs celebrated by hosting a Connected Automated Vehicle (CAV) exposition at their St. Louis Park location.

Attendees got the chance to ride in self-driving cars, enjoy networking, a happy hour, and learn about the newest advancements our state is making in CAV technology via presentations from 3M, MnDOT and OxTS.  

The day’s festivities all lead up to the main event and the highlight of the afternoon: a surprise announcement from VSI Labs about a special trip they’re planning for the summer.

The Automated Drive West
On August 20, two VSI Labs team members, Jacob Miller –a SciTech Alumni-  and Sara Sargent, accompanied by Sargent’s husband, will embark on a cross-country adventure from Minnesota to Santa Clara California to test the HD maps and lane-keeping capabilities of their self-driving Ford Fusion.

They’re calling it the Automated Drive West, a culmination of the “American ideals of road trips, the discoveries of the great west and technology leadership.”

The goal, Sargent said, is to discover what the real world challenges are for this type of technology. “This drive will be focused on testing Map-based lane keeping using HERE Live Maps and OxTS high precision GPS,” Sargent explained. “I’m excited to see how well the lane keeping system handles in mountain driving.”

“We have done extensive testing of this feature near our office in St. Louis Park, Minnesota,” Miller added, “but this road trip gives us a fantastic opportunity to test in other road conditions and for longer stretches.”

On the road again
Along their journey, the team has scheduled stops at some of the most iconic American landmarks, including prairie dog towns in the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, and the Great Salt Lake.

When it comes to this type of cross-country travel, Sargent is a pro. “My husband and I have done many road trips – this one 3 times in fact,” she said. “We love bringing games that we can play in the car together like Star Wars Trivia, A historical guessing game called Timelines and the classic – 20 questions. We’re also big fans of podcasts like Radio Lab, Stuff You Missed in History Class and Hardcore History.”

With the entertainment and activities taken care of, all that’s left are the snacks! For Sargent, it has to be Flaming Hot Cheetos and beef jerky, while miller’s snack of choice is Cheez-Its.

“These are a staple snack of mine,” Miller said, “whether or not I’m in the car.”

Follow along
Their end destination is the Drive World Convention and Expo, a Silicon Valley con that boasts a nexus of “the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.”

Those interested in staying connected with the VSI Labs’ progress can follow their adventures as they happen with regular updates posted on the VSI Labs website and social media.