The Festival of Speed is a celebration of both the classic and the cutting-edge, and this year’s Goodwood saw autonomy take on the hill climb for the first time.
Robocar, representing the Roborace motorsport series that relies on artificial intelligence (AI) instead of human drivers, became the first autonomous vehicle to take on the Goodwood challenge. The vehicle weighs 1,350kg and is powered by four 135kW electric motors used to drive each wheel, for a combined 500-plus hp. An NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 computer processes Robocar’s data, which includes inputs from the LiDAR, radar, GPS, ultrasonic and camera sensors.
Following a dry run away from the gaze of the crowd, the sleek Robocar then took on the 1.16-mile course in front of packed stands. While it may not have clocked a time to compete with fastest cars on display, Robocar’s impressive handling of the tricky Goodwood track was undoubtedly one of the festival highlights. The onboard video of the festival run can be seen below.
Elsewhere, Siemens teamed up with Cranfield University to merge the cutting-edge with the classic, equipping a ‘65 Mustang with autonomous capabilities. Fitting out a car over 50 years old with a self-driving system was never going to be straightforward, and the student team at Cranfield apparently had just a few months to work on the task. After some initial steering difficulties attributed to a mechanical fault, the Mustang did make a clean run up the hill, though its top speed was limited to 20mph. Considering the timescales involved and the enormity of the challenge, it was an impressive achievement for the Siemens and Cranfield team.