I realize I’m a bit late with all the Back To The Future jazz but how about we all get together for a moment to watch a self-driving DeLorean drift in a closed course thanks to something called MARTY aka Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control (which, by all rights, should actually be MARTBYC, but whatever). Researchers at Stanford upgraded the car with a Renovo Motors electric drive system and controls. Once the car hits 88 MPH the researchers were able to get it to do wild maneuvers automatically, a feat that could help future vehicles take control in skids and manage treacherous terrain.
The autonomous Delorean can also drive normally. The goal, however, was to turn a 1981 automotive flop into an amazing self-driving machine.
“When you watch a pro driver drift a car, you think to yourself that this person really knows how to precisely control the path and angle of the car, despite how different it is from normal driving,” said Jonathan Goh, a mechanical engineering graduate student at Stanford’s Dynamic Design Lab. “The wheels are pointed to the left even though the car is turning right, and you have to very quickly coordinate the throttle and steering in order to keep the car from spinning out or going the wrong way. Autonomous cars need to learn from this in order to truly be as good as the best drivers out there.”
In the end the researchers were unable to get the car to go back… to the future! but it does look cool spinning around on the tarmac and should be able to outrun any terrorist RPGs thanks to the electric motor system and some self-driving smarts.