Self-driving 1965 Ford Mustang to attempt first-ever Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb

Article by Christian A., on July 12, 2018

Every June or July of every year, motor racing vehicles – especially historic ones -- flock at West Sussex, England to challenge the hillclimb event of the highly prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed. For the first time in the festival’s history, a vehicle will brave the hillclimb without a driver behind its wheels.

So far, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has been graced by conventionally powered and electrified vehicles. However, all of these vehicles completed the 1.86-km (1.16 miles) hillclimb with a driver piloting the steering wheel. This is due to change this July 12, 2018 when an autonomous vehicle created by the collaboration between Siemens and Cranfield University tries to run the course.

People who might want to witness the first autonomous hillclimb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, however, should not expect an all-new self-driving car climbing its way up to the Goodwood House. Instead, they should look out for 1965 Ford Mustang with a distinctive silver wrap. The sides of this 1965 Mustang feature the number “25”, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Goodwood. This autonomous Mustang also features the blue “Siemens” logo and a stripe running on the lower flank with the same color as the logo. Stripes of the same color are also found on the hood and roof of the autonomous Mustang.

While Siemen’s Ford Mustang is from more than 50 years ago, this autonomous car contains a futuristic technology. Its overall looks may not indicate its true capability, but this self-driving classic Mustang is all ready to challenge the hillclimb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The 1965 Mustang will make its first attempt for the autonomous hillclimb on July 12. If the autonomous pony car managed to complete the hillclimb, it would make more attempts on July 13, 14 and 15. Video footage of the hiillclimb attempt will be live-streamed on the festival.

At more than more than 50 years old, the 1965 Mustang isn't really a vehicle developed and designed to be autonomously driven, let alone make the hillclimb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Thus, a number of challenges for the engineering team of the Siemens Autonomous Hillclimb challenge project. For instance, it proved tricky to adapt the traditional steering and suspension components in order to achieve a precise car control needed to complete the run.

In preparation for the hillclimb, the engineering team developed an accurate three-dimensional scan of the track at Goodwood to ensure awareness of the car’s position during the run. The team even employed an advanced location scanning technology from Bentley Systems.

The autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang will be parked in the main paddock to allow visitors to view it up close while learning more about autonomous vehicle technology.

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