A High-Class Affair: NVIDIA Partners Climb to New Heights at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Self-driving startups and automakers wow crowds with hillclimb and other demos at international racing event.
by Danny Shapiro

Some need an illustrious career capped with a knighthood or royal wedding to climb the ranks of centuries-old English society. Last week, self-driving cars only needed a winding uphill road through the countryside to make their entrance.

NVIDIA partners set records on the racetrack and showed off new vehicles for spectators gathered at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a global racing event that attracts 200,000 attendees.

The four-day event takes place on the grounds of the historic Goodwood House in West Sussex, England. Throughout the event, cars race along a 1.2-mile uphill course within the estate, featuring everything from classic race cars to the latest in automotive technology.

Last year, NVIDIA partner Roborace made its Goodwood debut with the first ever autonomous hillclimb. The autonomous racing startup came back to this year’s event with yet another driverless feat.

Using its latest vehicle, the DevBot 2.0, which can drive autonomously but also includes a cockpit for a human driver, Roborace completed the hillclimb with a combination of human and machine.

YouTube star Seb Delanney drove the DevBot partway up the course. In front of a large crowd of spectators, Delanney then exited the vehicle and waved it on its way as it completed the rest of the climb without a human driver.

Relying on sensors and the NVIDIA DRIVE platform, the DevBot seamlessly navigated the course’s twists and turns, traveling at speeds up to about 60 miles an hour.

The world firsts didn’t stop there. From debuts to self-driving splits, this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed was the talk of the racing town.

Remote Access 

To kick off the week, champion drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. wowed fans — without even leaving his desk chair.

Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Samsung

Driving for teleoperation startup Designated Driver, Gittin remotely drove a Lincoln MKZ using a virtual reality headset at a separate location on the estate. Using video transmitted from the car’s sensors via a 5G connection, he was able to drive the car using a desk setup of surrounding screens.

With NVIDIA technology onboard, the car was able to process data at high speeds with a latency under 70 milliseconds, making it possible for Gittin to burn rubber on high-speed drifts and take the car up the hillclimb.

Courtesy of Samsung

All About EVs

Even with a driver at the helm, the Porsche Taycan electric vehicle turned heads on the Goodwood course. The NVIDIA partner’s first EV went through its paces with the same grace and performance as its 911 cousin, a fixture at racetracks worldwide.

Autonomous delivery startup Kar-go showcased its battery-powered vehicle for Goodwood attendees. The futuristic vehicle leverages the NVIDIA DRIVE platform to process deep learning algorithms for driverless operation.

Photo by Sam Stephenson

Polestar, the performance car spinoff from Volvo Cars, kicked off the U.K. tour of its latest vehicle at Goodwood. The Polestar 2 is the company’s first all-electric vehicle, combining legendary performance with the next generation of powertrains.

Photo by Dominic James

After four days of racing and demos, the latest in automotive technology closed out this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed with champagne dreams and caviar wishes.