‘Self’ appears to be the buzzword in society right now. Self-service at the supermarket works if you are in a rush. So does self check-in at the airport (well, most of the time). But the jury is still out on self-driving cars. And while an autonomous Ford Mustang from the mid sixties sounds glamorous, mixing the best of old and new, unfortunately it hasn’t quite worked out.
Developed by German tech giant Siemens with help from Cranfield University, the car was revealed to the world earlier this week. Of course, of all the places on the planet you would want it to work, where you don’t want something to go wrong knowing bad PR will follow, it is the Goodwood Festival of Speed - an event where the great and the good assemble and where thousands flock to see them. Oh, and then footage is seen live all over the world on YouTube.
The system is designed to be fitted to older cars - but the Ford’s timed run up the famous hill will not go down as a classic. Using trick sensors and a super-fast on-board computer, Siemens said it would allow the car to navigate the hill climb with little if any driver input. Things started off well, albeit at a snail’s pace. In fact, it made for very painful watching (see the top video from the 24min mark). Some are likely to have even closed down their PC browser as fresh paint would run down a wall faster.
A short distance into the drive the Mustang begins to lurch left then right, forcing the driver to reach for the steering wheel. This trend - and some eratic braking - continues and, inevitably, with the finish line in sight, the car heads staight into a safety bale. The display is perhaps best described as a real-life example of car crash TV.
The silver lining is the car did at least manage to go up the hill on Friday a little tidier.