Stanford engineers taught MARTY the DeLorean how to drift a kilometer-long autocross course sans driver.
If somebody had asked us when we were kids what we thought the future of automotive looked like come 2020, the majority of us would likely conjure up images of flying cars and skyways, much like 'The Jetsons'. While the sky isn't exactly buzzing with flying cars just yet, it's still safe to say that the automotive industry has come a long way, especially in regards to technology. Nowadays, the near future looks to consist of autonomous cars, which are vehicles that can sense surroundings and navigate the environment with little to no human intervention, both a neat and scary thought. Well, meet MARTY, the driverless DeLorean. Not only can this '80s icon navigate sans driver, it can drift effortlessly through a kilometer-long autocross course thanks to a few Stanford engineers.
In this mesmerizing video, this self-driving DeLorean can be seen maneuvering the course, cleverly named MARTYkhana, with incredible precision and ease. Almost like a piece of artwork, the video shows the car performing flawless figure eights and donuts as if it is engaged in a smoky dance around strategically placed cones and hay bales. As the DeLorean drifts around the course, smoke billows from the roasting tires leaving a lengthy trail.
Two men are riding in the car, but at no point in time does the driver touch the steering wheel while the vehicle is in motion, and the other passenger is busy holding a laptop. So, besides creating a video that doubles as a piece of art, what was the reason behind this? Completing the autocross course provides mathematical insights and information to the Stanford engineers that could enhance how the autonomous software handles dangerous conditions.
Sure, the idea of autonomous cars sounds a bit terrifying, especially considering they could be among us while driving 75 miles per hour down the highway. A car that can "think for itself" also doesn't sound like the greatest idea. C'mon, has nobody seen the movie 'Christine'? Alright, that may be more of an apples and oranges scenario comparing MARTY the delightful, driverless DeLorean to an obsessive Plymouth Fury out for blood. But in all reality, MARTY the DeLorean robo-car is quite fun to watch.