The Goodwood Festival of Speed's Hillclimb will be attempted by Cranfield University's self-driving car Image:Cranfield University

Unique car to appear at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Cranfield University engineers have modified a classic sports car to enter Goodwood Festival of Speed’s hillclimb. The 1965 Ford Mustang will be the first vehicle to attempt the famous 1.86 km track without human direction.

Researchers from the University’s Advanced Vehicle Engineering Centre worked with Siemens to integrate state-of-the-art sensors and control algorithms into the car.

Dr James Brighton, Senior Lecturer at Cranfield, said:

“Goodwood offers us a chance to reflect on why we have an emotional connection with cars and acts as a reminder that humans like to be engaged and part of the action.

“The Siemens Autonomous Hillclimb challenge project connects the classic spirit of automotive adventure with advanced technology.”

Cranfield University's robo-car to attempt Goodwood hill climb Image: Cranfield University

An unpredictable car even when standard

The Siemens Autonomous Hillclimb will be attempted on Thursday 12 July. This will then be repeated twice every day until the end of the Festival on Sunday 15 July.

This model of can be notoriously unpredictable even under manual control. This presented the team with more challenges. They used advanced location-scanning technology from Bentley Systems to give the car an accurate 3D scan of the track.

Juergen Maier, CEO Siemens UK & Ireland, said:

“To help celebrate Goodwood’s 25th year anniversary, we’ve partnered with Cranfield University to bridge the gap between the legacy of the automotive industry while pointing to the future of autonomy in terms of both motoring and wider industrial applications.

“Customising a 1965 Ford Mustang with autonomous technologies, we’re going to attempt the famous hillclimb autonomously for the first time in Goodwood’s history.

“With digitalisation already everywhere, our aspiration will allow guests to take an awe-inspiring look into the future and experience the technology of tomorrow, today as a means of ensuring UK plc is at the forefront of a technology-led revolution like no other before it.”

Onboard cameras will livestream the attempts

The Mustang will be wrapped in a special silver design to mark the 25th anniversary. It will have cameras mounted inside and out to livestream the demo.

Dr Brighton will be seated in the car due to safety regulations. He will only take over if there are mechaincal or safety issues. He said

“A project born of ‘because we can’, and a sense of fun, the result is a car containing advanced technology, but involving the driver – a perfect celebration for Goodwood’s 25th anniversary.”

When the car is not on the hillclimb it will be parked in the main paddock. Giving visitors the opportunity to take pictures. It will also be a chance to pick up more information on autonomous vehicle technology.

Goodwood Festival of Speed attracts the rarest and most exciting road and race cars and bikes ever created. It has been staged every summer since 1993.