Autonomous driving technology is still very much an important part of the immediate future of mobility and there are a lot of different groups of professionals working on it. Companies like Tesla and Mercedes are already working on Level 5 Autonomy in cars while waiting for the regulations to catch up on it and various others are still developing the tech from a research perspective. The projects resulting from this research often gets showcased at automotive and tech events around the world and as such the Goodwood Festival of Speed is a big-marquee to demonstrate the capabilities of these concepts and projects. This year, one such concept was a 1965 Ford Mustang. A self-driving 1965 Ford Mustang. And it will attempt the Goodwood hill climb as well. They’ve taken an icon of enjoying the driving experience and made it autonomous. Fascinating? Or blasphemous?
The modified and autonomous Mustang is the work of Siemens in conjunction with Cranfield University. It’s still got a throaty combustion engine while the team has updated it where necessary without changing too much of the classic muscle car. The Siemens livery on it looks good and also celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. In order to make it’s speed restricted autonomous hill climb run, the ‘Stang will use “advanced location scanning technology” to map it’s route while the engineers have developed a 3D scan of the course as well. There’s not a whole bunch of cameras on it so the satellite-based positioning doesn’t work as well when the connection is weak under the foliage and the team wasn’t running with the full kit of complex sensors. Over multiple attempts up the hill with passengers and a driver for emergencies, the car learned how to do the course better. In its first few runs, it needed driver inputs on multiple occasions and on one particular occasion it did end up in the hay bales.
The project did get ridiculed by many on the internet for its mistakes, particularly highlighted by the contrasting high-speed performance run from the completely driverless all-electric Robocar. The Robocar is from the new competitive racing series called Roborace that has been testing on Formula E tracks and has former Formula E Champion Lucas Di Grassi as the official CEO. These driverless racecars rely on a mix of optical systems, radars, lidars and ultrasonic sensors for navigation and are capable of top speeds over 300kph.
As the Autonomous ‘Stang did not complete its first run up the hill successfully and needed human inputs, the Robocar became the FIRST fully autonomous vehicle to complete the Goodwood hill climb. But it’s important to note that the Robocar is highly funded product with a team of experts while the Autonomous ‘Stang is the result of about 6 weeks work by college students mainly. It’ll be interesting to see more of the autonomous features and technology be used more creatively in the automotive space.
What do you think of the Autonomous ‘Stang and Robocar? Do you agree that the two should have a show of their own of the same name? Share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to The Auto Loons for plenty more exciting updates from the world of cars.