Meet MARTY – Stanford’s Self-Driving Drifting DeLorean
Alexander Neil / 2 years ago
On the day that most of us are asking “where is my flying car and hoverboard?”, Prof. Gerdes of Stanford University and his students revealed a kind of DeLorean you won’t see in Back to the Future. It doesn’t fly, it doesn’t run on fusion power and it definitely doesn’t travel in time, but it does drift all by itself!
Named MARTY, which stands for Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control, the name doubles as a tribute to the film series that made the DeLorean famous. It may look like a regular DeLorean on the surface, but under the recognizable steel bodywork is a whole different machine. After all, a stock DeLorean would struggle to drift even under the best circumstances. Instead, MARTY sports an entirely new electric engine and gearbox supplied by Renovo, able to deliver over 20-times the power of the standard DeLorean V6 as well as a new steering system incorporating the ability to self-drive. And in the footage released by Stanford University, the results are sublime. The simple drift on open tarmac doesn’t seem like much, but it is just a stepping stone towards greater things, with Gerdes and his team aiming to have MARTY compete in drifting competitions alongside human drivers.
The idea of a drifting DeLorean competition seem all fun and games, but the research going into its functionality has very real applications in developing self-driving cars that hold up even outside of very controlled situations.
“The very best rally car drivers do this all this time, sacrificing stability so they can use all of the car’s capabilities to avoid obstacles and negotiate tight turns at speed. Their confidence in their ability to control the car opens up new possibilities for the car’s motion. Current control systems designed to assist a human driver, however, don’t allow this sort of maneuvering. We think that it is important to open up this design space to develop fully automated cars that are as safe as possible.” said Gerdes.
Maybe one day we’ll all be treated to a casual drift to work courtesy of our self-driving cars. It’s good to dream, right?