Cars that navigate complex terrain or urban environments have already been built for competitions like the DARPA's (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) various challenges. In fact, GM and Carnegie Mellon won the Urban challenge in 2007. Now the two are teaming to bring that technology to the street.

The project is as five-year, $5 million tie-up that will focus on developing the technology that won the DARPA challenge into the sort of equipment that would enable a future autonomous vehicle. Carnegie Mellon professor Raj Rajkumar thinks driverless cars will revolutionize the way we think about transport.

“Autonomous vehicles will change the face of transportation by reducing deaths and injuries from automobile accidents and increasing the convenience and comfort of vehicles,” he said.

While $5 million and only five years may seem a bit on the paltry side for such an ambitious project, the GM/Carnegie team have already developed the fundamental basis of much of the technology required. Now the work will be in making it robust, simple, small and commercially viable.

The intelligence of the system is already remarkable, with the Urban Challenge-winning autonomous Chevrolet Tahoe navigating over 55 miles of complex urban and suburban roads on its own, beating the competition from Stanford/Volkswagen by 20 minutes.