The car from Roborace, an upcoming autonomous, electric series, successfully ran the Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb without ramming nearby objects. The same cannot be said for the autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang that attempted Goodwood, perhaps scientifically proving that Mustangs will be Mustangs.
“Is science ever final?” you rush to the comments section to post, remembering your college days when professors would near biblically preach against using the word “proven.” “Can anything ever truly be proven?”
No, it cannot. You’re right. Except this. This is a fact.
Experiments on this theory commenced once again at Goodwood this week, when both the Roborace race car and a 1965 Mustang that was a project by Siemens and Cranfield University went to autonomously drive up the hill. Instead of the usual tests on Mustangs, with independent variable being the size of a curbside crowd at the Cars and Coffee exit and the dependent variable being how long it takes said Mustang to wreck while trying to impress said crowds, this Mustang went to new heights—proving that even without a driver to goof it up, the Mustang will swerve around frequently and hit things.
The Roborace car, on the other hand, went up the nearly 1.2-mile hillclimb at a seemingly much faster pace without hitting any nearby objects. (That’s always something to celebrate.) Roborace as a series is still a few years out and very much in development, but the car has come a long way.
The Roborace car didn’t use a safety driver as opposed to the Mustang, whose passengers had to take over and right its course multiple times. The Roborace car also used artificial intelligence, GPS, Lidar, cameras and other sensors to navigate the hill.
Along with being eerily quiet, video of the full run shows the Roborace car get up to decent speeds on the straighter areas of the hillclimb but brake early and often when curved road and turns come up. The race car also stayed in a pretty central position on track the whole run rather than hugging the corners, but this was an early run and the car’s job is to learn as it goes.
But hey, staying in the center of the road is a lot better than continually running into in the hay bales that line it.