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Autonomous cars come to Goodwood

28 June 2018

Autonomous cars are coming to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Roborace’s autonomous race car, Robocar, will take on the 1.16-mile track guided only by automated systems, making it the first self-driving car ever to attempt the hillclimb. It will be tasked with navigating hay bales, flint walls and forests on the Duke of Richmond’s estate, using a variety of sensors that give it 360-degree machine vision around the car.

In addition to the historic run, visitors to the Festival of Speed will also be able to enjoy the hillclimb from the Robocar’s point-of-view in a custom, fully immersive VR experience in the Roborace booth, located inside the Future Lab. Robocar, the world’s first autonomous race car, was designed by Daniel Simon, the automotive futurist known for his work in Hollywood films such as Oblivion and Tron: Legacy.

The purpose-built electric race car weighs 1,350 kg and is powered by four 135 kW electric motors used to power 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.

Siemens has also said that it will also attempt sending an autonomous vehicle up the hill, but rather than the futuristic Robocar, it will be a classic car. It will also be wrapped in a special silver design to mark the 25th anniversary of the Festival of Speed and feature cameras mounted inside and out to live stream the demo onto screens around the Goodwood estate. Safety regulations mean a non-active “driver” will be in the driving seat but will only take over if there’s a safety or mechanical issue during the run.

Teaming up with Cranfield University, Siemens’ choice of classic car has presented a particular challenge to engineers as the model can be notoriously unpredictable even under manual control. To help, advanced location scanning technology from Bentley Systems has allowed the Siemens and Cranfield engineering team to give the car an accurate 3D scan of the track connected to an awareness of the car’s own position.

Siemens aims to move autonomous technology forwards for industrial applications such as factory-based robots. Increased autonomy is coming to the cars of the future including sending and receiving signals from vehicles to road signs and objects in the road, which has potential efficiency and safety applications in both racing and in domestic driving situations.

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