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About Us

Automotive Innovation Facility Interior

Automotive Innovation Facility

The Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) brings together researchers, students, industry, government and the community to enable a future of human-centered mobility. Understanding how people and machines work together has never been so important than when building vehicles of the future. CARS supports educational experiences for students, infrastructure for research and events that bring students and campus researchers together with industry professionals and the broader community.

Launched in 2008, CARS was founded by Chris Gerdes, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Sebastian Thrun, Professor-Research, Computer Science and Cliff Nass, Professor, Communication. Researchers and vehicles affiliated with CARS are housed at the Automotive Innovation Facility, which houses the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab (often referred to as 'VAIL'), a state-of-the-art vehicle research facility where interdisciplinary teams can work on projects that move vehicle human-centered mobility forward.

Faculty Directors: Chris Gerdes and Marco Pavone
Academic Appointments:

Chris Gerdes

  • Professor, Mechanical Engineering
  • Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy

Marco Pavone

  •  Associate Professor, Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • by courtesy, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


  • Mykel Kochenderfer, Assistant Professor, Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Allan Reiss, Howard C. Robbins Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Professor of Radiology

Associate Director: Adele Tanaka
Vehicle Research Platform Manager: Larry Cathey
Administrative Associate: Sloan Rueter