Classic ’Stang might not be obvious choice for conversion to autonomous control, but it’s gonna make the first-ever attempt at Festival of Speed hillclimb

This year at the Festival of Speed, history is set to be made by the first-ever autonomous drive up the famous hillclimb. You might have expected the car in question to be something futuristic – but it’s actually a 1965 Ford Mustang.

In a collaboration between Siemens and Cranfield University, the Mustang will attempt the autonomous hillclimb on Thursday July 12 and, if successful, the bid will be repeated on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Footage of the attempt will be live-streamed around the festival.

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The Mustang has been treated to a distinctive silver wrap to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Goodwood. It will be parked in the main paddock for visitors to get up close to and learn more about autonomous vehicle technology as well as careers at Siemens.

First-ever autonomous hillclimb at Goodwood – in a 1965 Mustang!

Using the 1965 Mustang posed extra challenges for the team of engineers involved. Adapting the traditional steering and suspension components to allow the precise car control required to navigate the course was particularly tricky. A bespoke autonomous car would have been an easier proposition, with electrically assisted steering for example.

The engineering team also had to develop an accurate three-dimensional scan of the track to create connected awareness of the car’s position. To aid this, it used advanced location scanning technology from Bentley Systems.

‘To help celebrate Goodwood’s 25th 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,’ explains Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK & Ireland.

‘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.’

Dr James Brighton, senior lecturer at Cranfield, added: ‘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.’

First-ever autonomous hillclimb at Goodwood – in a 1965 Mustang!

Siemens is also exhibiting inside the Festival of Speed Future Lab, showcasing a four-person Virtual Reality (VR) experience to demonstrate future car design and engineering. In addition, it will also show the world’s first VR-designed, AI-engineered and 3D-printed car – the ‘La Bandita’ speedster (above).

In the F1 Paddock, Siemens will display the Renault R.S. 2027 Vision concept car, which is Renault Sport Formula 1 Team’s vision of F1’s future. There’s more information about the exhibitions on the Siemens website.