Autonomous race car, Robocar, attempts Goodwood Hill Climb

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Robocar driving by Goodwood House at testing_preview.jpeg

It’s been completed by several F1 drivers, including David Coulthard, but now the famous Goodwood Hill Climb is set to be undertaken for the very first time by a fully autonomous race car. 

Designed by Daniel Simon, the automotive futurist best known for his work in Hollywood films such as Oblivion and Tron, Robocar will take on the famous 1.16-mile track guided only by automated systems (just don’t expect it to be beat the course record of 41.6 seconds set by German racing driver Nick Heidfeld. Yet).

The vehicle will be tasked with navigating hay bales, flint walls and forests on the Goodwood estate, using a variety of sensors that give it 360-degree machine vision around the car.

The announcement comes after Robocar took centre stage in the FoS Future Lab at last year’s Festival of Speed.

Says Lucas di Grassi, CEO of Robocar’s owners, Roborace:

“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.”

In addition to the historic run, visitors to the Festival of Speed will also be able to enjoy the hillclimb from the Robocar’s point of view in a custom, fully immersive VR experience in the Roborace booth, located inside Future Lab.


This year’s FoS Future Lab will focus on space exploration, autonomous transport, robotics and personal flight. Visitors will be able to view displays and demonstrations, interact with some of the technology for themselves and learn more about these exciting innovations.

The autonomous run presents a milestone for the Goodwood event as the Festival of Speed celebrates its 25th anniversary, having been staged every summer since 1993. The Festival is renowned for attracting the rarest and most exciting road and race cars and bikes ever created.

Adds Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Duke of Richmond and Founder of the Festival of Speed:

“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.”

“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.”

The vehicle weighs 1,350 kg and is powered by four 135kW electric motors used to power each wheel, for a combined 500-plus hp. An NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 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 is led by ARRIVAL, the automotive technology company. 

Says Sergey Malygin, Chief of Software and AI at ARRIVAL:

“The Goodwood hillclimb presents a real challenge for level 4/level 5 autonomous driving systems. 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.”

FOS Future Lab will be open to the public throughout the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which runs from the 12 – 15 July 2018, 7am – 7pm each day.

Hospitality packages are available throughout the weekend. To buy tickets or enquire about hospitality visit www.goodwood.com or call the Goodwood Ticket Office on 01243 755 055.

You can see Robocar in action in this YouTube video below: 

 

Chris Price