Mechanical failures and bad advice conspired to make the early runs look terrible.
This year’s festivities at Goodwood certainly did not disappoint. There was a rather notable vehicle, however, that stood out from the rest. We’re talking about the 1965 Ford Mustang that took on the 1.1-mile hill in a manner no Mustang has ever attempted. Built by Siemens and Cranfield University, it had the necessary gear and modern tech to make a completely autonomous drive from start to finish, but as we all know by now, those first couple passes didn’t really go according to plan. In case you somehow missed it, check the video above to see what we mean.
An article from Sunday Times Driving could shed some light on what happened. The big reveal in the story is that the car apparently had power steering issues – as in a rather significant leak that cropped up on Thursday before the afternoon run. The team soldiered on, but the car’s computer brain had to cope with changes in pressure and as the world saw, it didn’t do such a great job.
According to this article, however, there’s a bit more to it than just failing power assist. The car was allegedly programmed to weave back and forth on purpose, with the theory being people would be impressed by seeing the car steer itself. The story points to this idea coming from 'TV production guys', so we’ll just take the high road here and assume they have very little knowledge on cars, and more importantly, what impresses car people.
Aside from that, the article mentions the car did have more advanced radar sensors installed but that they were shut off for fear that changes in the course could mess up a system that was, well, already messed up. Also, the live TV feed from the car was apparently interfering with its GPS sensors, and then the article reminds us that it was never meant to be a perfect car. After all, it was programmed in just six weeks, reportedly by a masters student who was 'not a professor.' Apparently that’s significant, because a professor wouldn’t get tossed under the proverbial bus for a less-than-stellar performance.
For the record, the team did pull things together for the later runs, and the result is captured in the video below with a slow but steady drive up the hill, straight and human-free. So we say well done masters student. You don't need no stinking professor.
We’ll just say this – the team did an admirable job, and by the end of the event the car did go up the hill as advertised. This despite a busted power steering line, absolutely terrible advice from a TV crew, and an entire world laughing at the first meandering attempts being shown on news sites around the world. It took guts to stick around and persevere, and for that this team has our respect.