News Briefs


Expert on Latin American religious cultures to speak at UM

Frank Graziano, a professor at Connecticut College, will give a lecture on Latin American poverty and distrust in religious and political institutions and how these relate to the population’s devotion to folk saints. The lecture is scheduled to take place on Monday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. in Whitten Learning Center 160.

Graziano has recently published “Cultures of Devotion: Folk Saints of Spanish America,” which provides an overview and study of these Hispanic saints that are not recognized by the Catholic Church. “Cultures of Devotion” is the first book in any language to do so.

Once, twice, four times the headache

The fire alarm at Mahoney Residential College woke the building’s occupants on four separate occasions within a two-hour period Wednesday morning, beginning around 4:30 a.m. The Dept. of Residence Halls said this was due to a faulty smoke detector on the second floor which was repaired by maintenance personnel at 6:30 a.m.


Stanford University researches developing self-driving car

Rahul Kanakia // The Stanford Daily (Stanford)

(U-WIRE) STANFORD, Calif. – Look, Ma, no humans.

Such is the rallying cry of the Stanford University Racing Team, composed of nearly forty Stanford faculty, researchers and graduate students. The team has been in collaboration with Volkswagen’s Silicon Valley lab to try to win the 2007 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge, seeking a car that can navigate a simulated urban environment for sixty miles in less than six hours, without any human guidance.

To win the $2 million prize money, the Stanford team must do all this while finishing first in what will likely be a field of more than thirty teams.

The Racing Team is fresh off a first-place finish in the 2006 DARPA Grand Challenge, where its robot car, a Volkswagen Touareg dubbed “Stanley,” won a race through the desert.

Michael Montemerlo, senior researcher at Stanford’s AI Labs and software lead for the Racing Team, said the squad faces additional challenges this year.

According to Montemerlo, the new car-a Passat donated by Volkswagen-will have to reliably detect and track a variety of new obstacles. And it will have to do so while obeying traffic laws, acting appropriately at intersections and doing everything else an experienced human driver would.

The Stanford Racing Team is led by Sebastion Thrun, an assistant professor of computer science and the head of Stanford’s 150-person AI Labs. Last year, Stanley was first out of 23 robot cars to compete in a 132-mile race through the Nevada desert and one of only four which successfully completed the drive.

The team took away $2 million from last year’s race. Some of the prize money was used to fund this year’s research, while the rest went to the School of Engineering to endow a scholarship.


Volunteers are needed to help collect donations for the United Way at this Saturday’s football game. Sign up by 5:30 p.m. today at the Service and Leadership Center (UC 240) or by emailing