NCCAR Sponsored Team to Compete in Defense Department’s Vehicle Competition

North Carolina team makes the final 36 for the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge

Roanoke Rapids, NC, August 16, 2007 --( The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that Insight Racing of Cary has made it through to the final 36 teams in the DARPA Urban Challenge. Lotus Engineering and the new North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR), formerly known as the Advanced Vehicle Research Center, in Northampton County are major sponsors of the Insight Racing team and their quest for victory in this advanced vehicle technology competition.

Insight Racing is a small team of NC State University Alumni and local technical professionals with strong skills in advanced computing. Founded by Grayson Randall in 2003, it has very close links to NC State University and the local IT industry. “We appreciate the sponsorship of NCCAR and are proud to be developing this smartcar technology in North Carolina. The support of sponsors like NC CAR and Lotus Engineering are key to our success,” said Grayson Randall, founder and team leader of Insight Racing. “With the development of alternative fuel vehicles and smartcars, transportation will change dramatically in the not-to-distant future.”

The DARPA Urban Challenge is the next step in progress towards achieving the Congressional mandate that 30% of land based military vehicles must operate without a driver by 2015. The premise was for vehicles to self navigate through a course that included on-road and off-road surfaces using only GPS defined waypoints and on-board sensors. The Urban Challenge, scheduled for this fall, requires vehicle to navigate autonomously through a city environment with other vehicles and comply with all traffic regulations.

The vehicle that Insight Racing selected for this challenge is unusual – it is a Lotus Elise sports car. This exclusive sports car has very few of the powered systems necessary to operate under computer control. Hence, Lotus Engineering converted the car to either driver or full computer control prior to Insight Racing installing the advanced computer systems and sensors.

The technologies developed by this small local team are totally in line with the future of automotive engineering and hence with the mission of NCCAR. “We are absolutely delighted that Insight has achieved such a huge endorsement of their skills and advanced technology. I’m confident that the team will do very well in the next stages of the competition. We also look forward to this technology being applied by Insight and NCCAR to the passenger vehicles of the future with benefits of increased safety and fuel economy,” said Gary Brown, NCCAR Board President.

NC State University is also a major sponsor of Insight Racing and has provided significant resources and technology to assist in the challenge. “Combining N.C. State’s research team with Lotus Engineering has proven to be a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Simon Cobb, Director of Lotus North Carolina Operations.

The North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR) is a modern automotive testing facility for use in the design, development, testing and certification of advanced vehicle technologies, sub-systems and components. NCCAR is a State funded initiative that is designed to combine the great resources and skills of North Carolina’s industries, academic institutions and strategies to put North Carolina at the front of advanced vehicle technologies and hence jobs The Research Center is a public-private partnership that matches the talents of multi-national automotive companies with those of North Carolina’s leading universities. NCCAR is world class and focused on next generation research and development in the automotive industry (

Lotus Engineering is an internationally recognized automotive engineering consultant based in Hethel, Norfolk, UK. Its global facilities include those in Michigan and North Carolina, USA and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and offices in Germany and China. It provides comprehensive and versatile consultancy services to many of the world's car manufacturers and tier one automotive suppliers, from initial concept and project design through development to full production prototype build.

Insight Racing is a North Carolina based robotic vehicle racing team formed to compete in the DARPA Grand Challenge events. (

North Carolina State University was founded as a land-grant institution in 1887. A nationally recognized leader in science and technology with historic strengths in agriculture and engineering, NC State provides a high-quality education in the humanities and social sciences, design, education, life sciences, management, natural resources, physical and mathematical sciences, textiles and veterinary medicine.

Northeast Development Commission
Vann Rogerson
Simon Cobb, Lotus Engineering

Gary Brown, NCCAR