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This Autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang Is Going to Drive Itself in a Hill-Climb

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 7/11/2018 Tony Markovich
This Autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang Is Going to Drive Itself in a Hill-Climb: Built by Siemens and Cranfield University, the V-8 pony car will make history at the hill-climb event. Read more and see photos at Car and Driver.© Car and Driver Built by Siemens and Cranfield University, the V-8 pony car will make history at the hill-climb event. Read more and see photos at Car and Driver.

The year 2018 is shaping up to be in big one for hill-climbs. After the all-electric Volkswagen I.D. R charged Pikes Peak in an impressive record run, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is about to be served its own spoonful of highly advanced technology. The fruit of a collaboration between automotive supplier Siemens and Cranfield University, a 1965 Ford Mustang outfitted with autonomous programming and equipment will attempt to climb Goodwood without any human driver’s hands on the wheel.

As always, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which runs from July 12 to 15, will be the site of rare classics and supercars by the dozens. This is the first time ever that autonomous vehicles will be allowed to make the famous hill-climb. The Mustang is one, and a Roborace electric car—remember this alien-looking thing from 2016?—s also scheduled to make an appearance, in promotion of the Formula E racing series.

a green and white truck parked next to a car: This Autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang Is Going to Drive Itself in a Hill-Climb© Car and Driver This Autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang Is Going to Drive Itself in a Hill-Climb

Whereas the Roborace car has about as futuristic a design as one will see at Goodwood, the Mustang takes the restomod approach. Complete with a 289-cubic-inch V-8 under the hood and a three-speed transmission with a shifter sprouting from the center tunnel, it fully keeps its classic original style, including the signature double center stripe. According to Cranfield automotive engineering professor James Brighton, the project was built out of “a sense of fun,” with the main reason being, “because we can.”

The Mustang is fitted with numerous high-tech sensors and programmed with control algorithms that work together to steer the car on the intended path. But this is not the same as a road car that steers autonomously based on detecting road markings and other vehicles. Thanks to integrated GPS and location-scanning tech from Bentley Systems, the Mustang will already have three-dimensional data of the full track programmed into its system for guidance. According to its maker, the 3D scan will be “connected to an awareness of the car’s own position.” Essentially, it will have an idea of where it’s going before it rolls a single degree up that hill. 

This is not a car that will be attempting to wow with speed—it’s not expected to go much faster than 40 mph—but it’s still an interesting challenge. Canfield University’s Brighton will be inside during the run but will only take control of the wheel if something goes wrong. Cameras will also be attached to the inside and outside of the Mustang for a live stream of the event. See it for yourself on Thursday, July 12.

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