Today is the day Marty McFly and Doc made it to the future in ‘Back to the Future II,’ and in what could be the coolest way to honour the cultural significane of October 21, 2015, Stanford researchers have rigged an old DeLorean to drive itself.
Named MARTY, the self-driving DeLorean is designed to drift at large angles, allowing it to do some great doughnuts. The DeLorean is being used to study how cars respond in extreme situations, which could help develop autonomous safety programs, Stanford writes about the car.
The research team was inspired by rally racers, who prefer to sacrifice stability for controllability and speed, WIRED reported. Rally cars slide through turns but can do whatever the driver tells them to do, which means computers can be programmed to allow for drift.
The Stanford team bought MARTY, which stands for the Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control, for $US22,000 from a guy who drove it regularly in Sausalito, California in 2013. But the car needed a few upgrades.
“The DeLorean’s a really great car, unless you want it to accelerate, brake, or turn,” Chris Gerdes, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Revs Center, told WIRED.
The upgrades include a new power steering motor, a roll cage to improve the car’s structure, and two motors each over the rear wheels that provides 4,100 pound-feet of torque.
Bridgestone, an auto parts manufacturer, provided tires — a worthy donation, considering how much rubber the car burns through doing all those doughnuts.
The car has a GPS system to measure its position and inertial sensors to detect movement. It doesn’t use a LIDAR sensor like many autonomous cars, such as Google, because the car isn’t being tested for how well it perceives its environment, but for how it behaves when pushed to the limit.
Check out Stanford’s self-driving DeLorean in action below.
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