Every year, the Goodwood Festival of Speed sees classic race cars and sportscars tackle a mile long hill climb in the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex, UK. This year it's the Festival's 25th anniversary, and it's getting a very special taste of the future to celebrate. A fully autonomous electric race car will attempt the hill climb for the very first time.
The 1.16 mile (1.86 km) track on the Duke of Richmond's estate might not be as challenging as Pikes Peak, but the Roborace vehicle attempting to navigate it won't have an experienced human driver behind the wheel. The Robocar will have to whiz past hay bales, avoid flint walls and zip through forests using data gathered from numerous sensors – including LiDAR, radar, GPS, ultrasonic and cameras – and processed by an Nvidia Drive PX2 computer system.
"The Goodwood hill climb presents a real challenge for level 4/level 5 autonomous driving systems.," said Sergey Malygin, Chief of Software and AI at Arrival, the company responsible for the development of the automated driving system in the Goodwood Robocar. "It is a narrow track with complex geometry. Turns and hills with a great deal of tree coverage mean you can't rely on GPS/RTK signal for localization. Use of all advanced sensors, including LiDARs and cameras with deep learning based computer vision methods are needed to perform well at this course."
The 1,350 kg (2,976 lb) Robocar was designed by Daniel Simon, who is perhaps best known for his vehicle designs in movies such as Oblivion and Tron: Legacy. It has a 135 kW electric motor at each wheel that produce a combined 500+ horsepower.
Visitors to the Festival of Speed – which starts on Thursday July 12 and closes on Sunday July 15 – will be able to sit in a virtual passenger seat as the Robocar speeds around the track thanks to an immersive VR experience at the Roborace booth.
You can see a short teaser in the video below.
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