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Navlab is a series of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles developed by teams from The Robotics Institute at the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University. Later models were produced under a new department created specifically for the research called "The Carnegie Mellon University Navigation Laboratory".[1]


Research on computer controlled vehicles began at Carnegie Mellon in 1984[1] and production of the first vehicle, Navlab 1, began in 1986.[2]


The vehicles in the Navlab series have been designed for varying purposes, "... off-road scouting; automated highways; run-off-road collision prevention; and driver assistance for maneuvering in crowded city environments. Our current work involves pedestrian detection, surround sensing, and short range sensing for vehicle control."[3]

Several types of vehicles have been developed, including "... robot cars, vans, SUVs, and buses."[1]


The institute has made vehicles with the designations Navlab 1 through 10.[3] The vehicles were mainly semi-autonomous, though some were fully autonomous and required no human input.[3]

Navlab 1 was built in 1986 using a Chevrolet panel van.[2] The van had 5 racks of computer hardware, including 3 Sun workstations, video hardware and GPS receiver, and a Warp supercomputer.[2] The vehicle suffered from software limitations and was not fully functional until the late 80s, when it achieved its top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h).[2]

Navlab 2 was built in 1990 using a US Army HMMWV.[2] Computer power was uprated for this new vehicle with three Sparc 10 computers, "for high level data processing", and two 68000-based computers "used for low level control".[2] The Hummer was capable of driving both off- or on-road. When driving over rough terrain, its speed was limited with a top speed of 6 mph (9.7 km/h). When Navlab 2 was driven on-road it could achieve as high as 70 mph (110 km/h)[2]

Navlab 1 and 2 were semi-autonomous and used "... steering wheel and drive shaft encoders and an expensive inertial navigation system for position estimation."[2]

Navlab 5 used a 1990 Pontiac Trans Sport minivan. In July 1995, the team took it from Pittsburgh to San Diego on a proof-of-concept trip, dubbed "No Hands Across America", with the system navigating for all but 50 of the 2850 miles, averaging over 60 MPH.[4][5][6]. In 2007, Navlab 5 was added to the Class of 2008 inductees of the Robot Hall of Fame.[7]

Navlabs 6 and 7 were both built with Pontiac Bonnevilles, one dark green, the other white.

Navlab 8 was built with an Oldsmobile Silhouette van.

Navlabs 9 and 10 were both built out of Houston transit buses.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Navlab: The Carnegie Mellon University Navigation Laboratory". The Robotics Institute. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Todd Jochem; Dean Pomerleau; Bala Kumar & Jeremy Armstrong (1995). "PANS: A Portable Navigation Platform". The Robotics Institute. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Overview". NavLab. The Robotics Institute. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  4. ^ "Look, Ma, No Hands". Carnegie Mellon University. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017. 
  5. ^ Freeman, Mike (3 April 2017). "Connected Cars: The long road to autonomous vehicles". Center for Wireless Communications. Retrieved 31 December 2017. 
  6. ^ Jochem, Todd. "Back to the Future: Autonomous Driving in 1995 - Robotics Trends". Retrieved 31 December 2017. 
  7. ^ "THE 2008 INDUCTEES". The Robot Institute. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 

External links

  • The Robotics Institute website
  • Navlab website
  • PANS paper (1995) for the Navlab 5
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