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First driverless race car completes iconic Goodwood Hillclimb

20 July 2018

Roborace’s electric, driverless race car, the Robocar, navigated the famous 1.16 mile course at the Goodwood Estate using artificial intelligence.

Robocar (Credit: Roborace)

The run is the first in the history of Goodwood to be completed by a race car that has no human driver in the car – a huge milestone moment for the Festival, which this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The electric race car wowed the crowds as it took to the Hillclimb, using a variety of sensors located around the vehicle to give it 360° vision of its environment.  The information provided by these sensors gives Robocar the ability to localise its position on the hill and detect drivable surfaces and objects using deep neural networks.

“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,” 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.”

“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. 

Visitors to the Festival also experienced this historical run from the perspective of Robocar in the FoS Future Lab. Inside the exhibition, Roborace offered visitors the chance to try out a fully immersive VR simulator, in conjunction with HTC VIVE and DBOX.

In its second year at the Festival, the FoS Future Lab was bigger and even more exciting than its debut appearance at FoS 2017. This year’s exhibition focused on innovation topics like space exploration, autonomous transport, robotics and personal flight. Visitors could view displays and demonstrations, interact with some of the technology and learn more about the new and future technology featured.

Robocar, the world’s first autonomous race car, was designed by Daniel Simon, the automotive futurist known for his work in Hollywood films such as Oblivion and Tron: Legacy.

The vehicle weighs 1,350kg and is powered by four 135kW electric motors used to drive each wheel, for a combined 500-plus hp. An NVIDIA DRIVE PX2 computer processes Robocar’s data, which includes inputs from the LiDar, radar, GPS, ultrasonic, and camera sensors.

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 was led by ARRIVAL, the automotive technology company. 

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