For the first time in history, an autonomous electric car will take on the famous hillclimb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (FOS).
The driveway of Lord March, the Duke of Richmond, has made a name for itself as one of the world’s most prestigious hillclimb events, gathering historic racing machines, prototypes, new models, as well as motorbikes, driven by the world’s best racers.
Roborace is a technology firm that hopes to start the first motorsport championship with autonomously driving, electrically powered vehicles. It will attempt the hillclimb with Robocar, the world’s first autonomous race car, designed by Daniel Simon, the automotive futurist known for his work in Hollywood films such as Oblivion and Tron: Legacy. This is not Robocar’s first appearance in Goodwood as it took center stage in the FOS Future Lab at last year’s event.
The fully-automated, electric racing car will tackle the 1.16-mile course using only automated systems, sensors, and 360-degree vision to navigate the hay bales, flint walls and forests of the Goodwood estate.
Like last year, Roborace will also return to Future Lab with its own pavilion. As an added bonus, visitors to the Festival of Speed will also be able to view the hillclimb attempt from Robocar’s point of view in a custom, fully immersive VR experience in the Roborace booth, located inside Future Lab.
The car weighs 1,350 kilograms (2,976 pounds) and is powered by four 184-PS (135-kW) electric motors, providing all four wheels with around 507-PS. An Nvidia drive PX 2 computer processes the car’s data, which includes inputs from the LiDAR, radar, GPS, ultrasonic, and camera sensors.
The attempt coincides with the Goodwood Festival of Speed’s 25th anniversary, having been staged every summer since 1993.
"We are excited that the Duke of Richmond has invited us to make history at Goodwood as we attempt the first ever fully – and truly – autonomous uphill climb using only artificial intelligence," said Lucas di Grassi, CEO of Roborace.
"I can't think of a more exciting way to celebrate our Silver Jubilee than to have Roborace attempt the first autonomous race car run up the hill," said Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Duke of Richmond and Founder of the Festival of Speed. "Roborace plays an important role in the future of mobility, challenging public perceptions and providing a platform to advance new technologies. This makes them the perfect partner to undertake this significant feat."
Roborace is looking to gain some valuable insight from the attempt due to the course's unique environment.
"The Goodwood hillclimb presents a real challenge for level 4/level 5 autonomous driving systems." said Sergey Malygin, Chief of Software and AI at ARRIVAL. "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.”
As for the future autonomous racing series, Roborace provides the car with an API as a platform for teams who then add their AI driver algorithm to the vehicle. Development of the automated driving system for the Robocar at Goodwood is led by ARRIVAL, an automotive technology company.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed begins on July 12.