Siemens to run fully autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang up Goodwood hill climb

Tech giant will be vying with autonomous racing series Roborace to make history with first self-driving hill climb.

The famous hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed has seen its fair share of cars from just about every era, class, market sector and price bracket – but two companies are attempting to make history during the event’s 25th anniversary with the first fully autonomous hill climb.

Aiming to be the first is tech giant Siemens, which is taking a different route to most autonomous vehicle manufacturers. Instead of building a fully robotised vehicle from the ground up, it’s chosen to retrofit autonomous driving technology to a motoring icon – a 1965 Ford Mustang.

Siemens says using the classic car is a calculated move – aimed at connecting the past glory of the motoring world with the autonomous future.

Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens UK & Ireland, said: “To help celebrate Goodwood’s 25th anniversary, we’ve partnered with Cranfield University to bridge the gap between the legacy of the automotive industry while pointing to the future in terms of both motoring and wider industrial applications.

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

Painted in a special livery to honour Goodwood’s 25th anniversary, the Mustang has been developed jointly by researchers from Siemens and Cranfield University. The team used advanced scanning technology to gain a detailed 3D model of the track, allowing the car to ‘know’ exactly where it is.

The complex course requires delicate handling controls, making it a challenge for any autonomous car to complete. A full suite of sensors and control algorithms allows the Mustang to do this, responding to tiny changes in the road’s surface.

Best of all, cannibalising the ’60s icon hasn’t come at the price of its character. The Mustang is still fully manually driveable, giving drivers the opportunity to experience the V8 engine in all its glory.

Also vying for the coveted record is autonomous race series Roborace, which will present its fully automated electric racing car as a hill-climb competitor. The Roborace car features LiDAR, radar, GPS, ultrasonic and camera sensors, allowing it to build up its own picture of the track. It then uses advanced AI to drive itself on the fastest racing line.

Siemens is confident it will be the first past the post, however, with the Mustang’s initial run taking place on Thursday, July 12, ahead of Roborace’s attempt.

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