For racing fans one of the most iconic events of the calendar is the Goodwood Festival of Speed which took place earlier this month. Famed for the hill climb featuring historic motor racing vehicles held in the grounds of Goodwood House, UK, this year was extra special being the 25th anniversary. To mark the event the first fully autonomous, fully driverless vehicle, the Roborace Robocar was entered and as an added bonus HTC Vive was in attendance to offer some virtual reality (VR) thrills.
In a first for the festival the driverless car completed the hillclimb using an array of radar, LiDAR, ultrasonic, GPS, and camera sensors, powered by the NVIDIA DRIVE autonomous vehicle computing platform. It’s a 1.16-mile course with a twisting, steady uphill grade, climbing nearly vertical 500 feet which the car achieved without a hitch.
“We are ecstatic that the team has 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,” said Rod Chong, Deputy CEO of Roborace. “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.”
Using the array of sensors Robocar was able to construct a 360-degree view of the road and navigate the course using AI, with its four 135kW electric motors powering each wheel for a combined 500-plus horsepower, helping it achieve a maximum speed of 75 mph.
“It is an enormous achievement for a race car to complete the very first run of the Hill using only artificial intelligence,” said Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Duke of Richmond and Founder of the Festival of Speed. “Roborace has worked incredibly hard in order to pull this off.”
To round off the iconic showcase, Robocar captured footage and other date during the course of the festival which was then fed into a custom simulator featuring a HTC Vive Pro. This allowed attendees to feel every turn and bump as if they were laying down on the car. Hopefully Roborace and HTC Vive plan on demoing the simulator at further events. If they do VRFocus will let you know.