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Friday, January 1, 2016

This Self-Driving Isuzu Vehicross is an eBay Surprise


Copyright © 2016 Bold Ride LLC.

Depending on who you ask, the commercially available self-driving car is not far off on the horizon. Tesla continues to push the limits with its Autopilot features and the recently revealed Google-Ford deal could put the Blue Oval at the tip of the autonomous spear. All this, in time. 
But what if you wanted to own a truly self-driving car, today? Well, eBay has answered and that car would appear to be…a 1999 Isuzu Vehicross, nicknamed “Marvin.” No joke.

This highly modified and self-driving Isuzu was created by Austin Robot Technology in cooperation with the Computer Science Department of the University of Texas at Austin. According to the seller, it participated in two of the Department of Defense’s DARPA Grand Challenge events and later attended the DARPA Urban Challenge.

Its days of autonomous competition might be over, but perhaps there’s still some fight left in the self-driving Marvin.


First things first, the seller makes it clear this Vehicross is an experimental vehicle, not a daily driver, even though a low mileage “VX” is becoming harder and harder to find these days. As such it comes outfitted with a full suite of autonomous tech, including a pair of powerful computers to handle the array of sensors, a 180-degree laser scanner, and all the hardware necessary to actuate the vehicle’s gears, steering, braking, and acceleration.

All that tech is rather requisite, as the DARPA testing challenged these vehicles to autonomously perform three-point turns, avoid obstacles, and negotiate busy traffic at stop signs. The final Urban Challenge was even a self-driving race through a city landscape. In a contemporary press release, the project’s team leader Dave Tuttle noted, “we couldn’t be more excited, Marvin had passed all the tests beautifully.”

Check out the video below to see the plucky Isuzu negotiate a never-ending parade of Ford Taurus sedans—fearsome opponents, they are.

As far as self-driving Isuzu Vehicrosses go, this is probably the only one. There is a catch, however. While it does come loaded with equipment, it is said to be lacking its Velodyne LiDAR scanner and Applanix navigation unit, which we would imagine are quite important. If you have a spare LiDAR array and nav unit handy though, well…your self-driving Vehicross awaits.