A classic sports car modified by engineers from Cranfield University will attempt the hillclimb at Goodwood Festival of Speed without human direction for the first time.

Researchers from Cranfield’s Advanced Vehicle Engineering Centre have worked with technology and engineering firm Siemens to integrate a suite of state-of-the-art sensors and control algorithms into a 1965 Ford Mustang to complete the famous 1.86 km track.

The Siemens Autonomous Hillclimb will be attempted on Thursday 12 July and will be repeated twice every day until the end of the Festival on Sunday 15 July. 

Dr James Brighton, Senior Lecturer at Cranfield, said: “Goodwood offers us a chance to reflect on why we have an emotional connection with cars and acts as a reminder that humans like to be engaged and part of the action. The Siemens Autonomous Hillclimb challenge project connects the classic spirit of automotive adventure with advanced technology.”

Juergen Maier, CEO Siemens UK & Ireland, said: “To help celebrate Goodwood’s 25th year anniversary, we’ve partnered with Cranfield University to bridge the gap between the legacy of the automotive industry while pointing to the future of autonomy in terms of both motoring and wider industrial applications. 

“Customising a 1965 Ford Mustang with autonomous technologies, we’re going to attempt the famous hillclimb autonomously for the first time in Goodwood’s history.

“With digitalisation already everywhere, our aspiration will allow guests to take an awe-inspiring look into the future and experience the technology of tomorrow, today as a means of ensuring UK plc is at the forefront of a technology-led revolution like no other before it.“

The choice of classic car has presented a particular challenge as the model can be notoriously unpredictable even under manual control. Advanced location-scanning technology from Bentley Systems has allowed the engineering team to give the car an accurate 3D scan of the track, connected to an awareness of the car’s own position.

The car will also be wrapped in a special silver design to mark the 25th anniversary and feature cameras mounted inside and out to livestream the demo.

“A project born of ‘because we can’, and a sense of fun, the result is a car containing advanced technology, but involving the driver – a perfect celebration for Goodwood’s 25th anniversary,” added Dr Brighton, who will be in the driving seat of the car due to safety regulations, but will only take over if there’s a safety or mechanical issue during the run.

When the car is not on the hillclimb it will be parked in the main paddock and available for selfies and a meeting point for more information on autonomous vehicle technology and careers in science, engineering and technology.

Goodwood Festival of Speed is renowned for attracting the rarest and most exciting road and race cars and bikes ever created and has been staged every summer since 1993.

Notes for editors

Cranfield University is working at the forefront of research and teaching in automotive and motorsport engineering and mechatronics. Courses include the Automotive Mechatronics MSc, the Automotive Engineering MSc, the Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc and the Advanced Motorsport Mechatronics MSc.

Transport Systems courses

 About Cranfield University

Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Cranfield has over 50 years’ experience in transport, including the aviation, automotive, motorsport, military and marine sectors.

We are the only university in Europe to own and run an airport and to have airline status. 

Our education and award-winning research covers all modes of vehicles and transport across technology, engineering and management, including sustainable transport and intelligent mobility. 

In an increasingly interconnected world, we specialise in understanding the whole environment in which transport operates: the vehicles, infrastructure, businesses and logistics, as well as the human aspects of operating, managing and using transport.

Our world-class facilities include high-performance wind tunnels, an off-road vehicle dynamics facility, a crash impact test centre (one of just three FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) approved test centres in the world) and our Accident Investigation Laboratory, which is dedicated to our work in aviation, marine and rail safety and the only accident investigation laboratory of its type outside the United States. We were awarded the Queens Anniversary Prize for our world-leading work in aviation safety through research and training in air accident investigation in 2011.

Completed in 2017, our latest facility is a £19 million ‘smart’ roadway test environment for the development of intelligent and autonomous vehicles, making it a UK first. It includes the associated systems needed to integrate emerging technologies into our day-to-day lives.

Read more about Transport Systems at Cranfield

About Siemens

Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for 170 years. The company is active around the globe, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of efficient power generation and power transmission solutions and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry.

With its publicly listed subsidiary Siemens Healthineers AG, the company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment – such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging systems – and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. In fiscal 2017, which ended on September 30, 2017, Siemens generated revenue of €83.0 billion and net income of €6.2 billion. At the end of September 2017, the company had around 377,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at www.siemens.com