First Driverless Racecar at Festival of Speed – Robocar

Robocar Driverless Racecar at Goodwood Festival of Speed

First ever driverless car to complete the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb at the events 25th anniversary weekend, although, Robocar had to have it’s speed restricted.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed celebrated its 25th anniversary on the weekend of July 14th. With the usual events taking place over the weekend, the infamous hill climb featured something pretty special. Roborace sent their electric racecar, Robocar, up the hill as the first car of the day. Robocar, however, has no driver. It is a completely driverless car that uses only artificial intelligence to make its way up the course to the finish, and there certainly is a lot of technology involved.

Robocar, How It Works…

Robocar has a variety of sensors that give it 360 vision of its environment, the information from these sensors gives it the ability to localise its position on the hill and also detect driveable surfaces and obstacles. The car responds using deep neural networks that process the information it receives and therefore drives the car up the hill. With technology replacing the driver, the car certainly stands out, with only a small module on top of the vehicle that resembles anything close to a camera or sensor let alone a driver.

Limited Speed for Robocar

Spectators were given a taster of the car’s ability, as it was limited to a speed of 120 kph so that they could get a good view of it as it sped up the hill. Rod Chong, deputy CEO of Roborace said, “We are ecstatic that the team have been able to achieve this landmark run and we hope that it draws attention to the amazing advances that are being made in the automotive industry.” Which, coupled with the limited speed of the car, show that this was just about showing what car technology can do and not about setting the fastest time they could at the show. Chong goes on further to say that, “Robocar is an ambassador for the future technologies we will see on our roads and we hope that inspirational stunts like this will change public perceptions of autonomous vehicles.”

Robocar, Autonomous Racecar, in action

Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Duke of Richmond and founder of the Festival of Speed, said that, “it is an enormous achievement for a race car to complete the very first run on the hill using only artificial intelligence, Roborace has worked incredibly hard in order to pull this off and we are excited for the public to them in action.” The car certainly did put on a show for the crowd, by doing the first run up the hill on each day of the festival for them to see, and also providing a unique experience in the Festival of Speed Future Lab.

Virtual Reality Simulator for Robocar’s Hill Run

The Festival of Speed Future Lab gave people the opportunity to experience Robocar’s run up the hill in full virtual reality in partnership with HTC VIBE and DBOX. Spectators could watch the run in a fully immersive VR simulator inside the exhibition. That’s not all that’s on show in the Future Lab, in its second year running it focussed on innovation topics such as; space exploration, autonomous transport, robotics and personal flight. Visitors of the Future Lab were able to view demonstrations, interact with some of the technology and learn about the new a future technology featured. For the race run to be available for spectators to view in Virtual Reality gives an insight into what could possibly be the future for motorsport. Although you may not be able to have a fully immersive VR simulator in your future home, you can certainly get hold of a VR headset, therefore providing another level of experience for fans of motorsport, imagine watching the Formula One from the drivers perspective.

The Tech Behind Robocar

Daniel Simon, the automotive futurist known for his work with Hollywood films; Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, designed Robocar, the world’s first autonomous racecar. The vehicle comes in at 1350 kg and is powered by four 135 kw electric motors. Each motor drives its own individual wheel, which results in 500-plus hp, combined. A Nvidia Drive PX2 computer processes Robocar’s data, which includes inputs from LiDar, radar, GPS, ultrasonic and the camera sensors around the car. Roborace provides the car with an API platform for teams, who then add their AI driver algorithm to the vehicle. Development of the automated driving system for Robocar at Goodwood Festival of Speed was led by Arrival, the automotive technology company.

You can watch Robocar in action in the video below.

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