Photo credit: Jonathan Goh | Infographic by Yvonne Tang
Jon Goh, a recent mechanical engineering PhD graduate from Stanford, has upgraded MARTY, a 1981 DeLorean that his colleagues at the Dynamic Design Lab converted into an all-electric, autonomous drift car. His team have spent years coding and welding to prepare the vehicle to apply its drifting skills to an intense driving course inspired by Ken Block’s Gymkhana series. Read more for the video a nd additional information.
How does it work? Well, on-board computers measure MARTY’s response over dozens of runs, and the engineers translate those vehicle dynamics into software. Training an autonomous car like MARTY to drift is great for testing a car’s ability to drive evasively. Under normal conditions, a driver points the car where they want to go and uses the accelerator / brake pedals to control the speed, while drifting throws those out the window.
We’re trying to develop automated vehicles that can handle emergency maneuvers or slippery surfaces like ice or snow. We’d like to develop automated vehicles that can use all of the friction between the tire and the road to get the car out of harm’s way. We want the car to be able to avoid any accident that’s avoidable within the laws of physics,” said mechanical engineer Chris Gerdes.