With the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed just a few weeks away, expect news on the entrants to be coming thick and fast. We already know about the Porsche 911 Speedster, the McLaren Sports Series Longtail and the, er, 200mph jet pack, and now there's this: the Robocar.
Yes, really, the Robocar, the vehicle that will be used in Roborace, which you may have seen previewed on Top Gear recently. As you might have guessed (or already know), the Robocar is a driverless racing car, which points to an interesting future for motorsport to say the least. It's powered by a 6.0-litre V... only joking, four 135kW electric motors in each wheel, for a combined power output of more than 500hp, which has to shift 1,350kg. The Roborace also looks suitably futuristic, low, long and wide because, well, there's no need for a pesky human to be squeezed in.
What's notable about the Robocar's appearance at Goodwood this year, though, is that it will actually give a moving demonstration run on the hill. Using its LiDAR, GPS, ultrasonic, radar and camera technology (with data then processed by an Nvidia Drive PX 2 computer), the Robocar will complete the 1.16-mile hillclimb autonomously. Given it's caught out some of the world's best drivers over the Festival's 25 years, that's an audacious plan. Indeed Sergey Malygin, Chief of Software at Arrival (which is helping develop the Robocar), said the hillclimb "presents a real challenge for level 4/level 5 autonomous driving systems" because of how narrow the course is and the amount of trees covering the track, which means GPS signals can struggle to reach the car.
Sometime F1 driver Lucas di Grassi is CEO of Roborace, and said the team were "excited that the Duke of Richmond has invited us to make history." During the autonomous run, festival goers will be able to watch the Robocar in virtual reality at the Roborace booth. Like the jet pack, that booth is located in the Future Lab, where the Robocar will be located when not on the hill.
Certainly something to look out for at Goodwood then, and surely there isn't anywhere better to show off autonomy to petrolheads than the Festival of Speed. Will you be watching the first autonomous run up the hill? Or perhaps you'll be in the Roborace booth? Or maybe you won't be. As always, we'd love to know your thoughts!