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Roborace Makes Goodwood History With Autonomous Hillclimb

History was made at the Goodwood Festival of Speed yesterday as Robocar completed the first official fully autonomous hillclimb at the event.

Using input from LiDar, radar, GPS, ultrasonic and camera sensors the AI driver can pinpoint the car’s position on the climb and keep the car on track.

The vehicle weighs 1,350 kg 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.

This was the first of three runs the car is set to do over the weekend. Although capable of reaching speeds of 200mph it was limited to a top speed of 75mph for the run.

“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.”

Roborace hopes to eventually evolve into a fully fledged racing series with all electric, all autonomous cars. Initially this will be a support series for the Formula E championship, the all electric racing series. The hope is a racing series will push forward autonomous technology that will benefit road cars in the future.

So far Roborace have limited the cars to a series of demonstration events. In December last year Robocar competed against Formula E reporter Nicki Shields in a time trial event prior to the Hong Kong leg of the Formula E championship.

The car itself was designed by Daniel Simon known for his work on futuristic vehicles seen in Tron: Legacy and Oblivion. The vehicle weights 1,350kg and the 135kW motors found on each while combine to give the car over 500bhp.

“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. “Roborace has worked incredibly hard in order to pull this off and we are excited for the public to see them in action over the Festival weekend.”

The Festival of Speed is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the 1.16 mile hillclimb one of the highlights of the event. The festival is famed for featuring classic and modern racing cars giving the 55,000 crowd the chance to get close up with an array of vehicles.

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