Photo: Universal Studios
If you’re going to build an autonomous vehicle, you should probably pick something with a bit of style. And that’s exactly what Chris Gerdes, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University and mega-fan of Back to the Future opted to do.
With a handful of helping hands from his students, Gerdes took a trip back in time (along with a little inspiration from Doc Brown) to create a fully electric, autonomous, drifting DeLorean.
The Revs Program at Stanford, led by Gerdes, teamed up with Renovo Motors to strip the 1981 DeLorean of its gas-powered engine. It was then replaced with a modified electric supercar system named…yes…“MARTY” (Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control).
“We want to design automated vehicles that can take any action necessary to avoid an accident,” Gerdes said. “The laws of physics will limit what the car can do, but we think the software should be capable of any possible maneuver within those limits. MARTY is another step in this direction, thanks to the passion and hard work of our students. Stanford builds great research by building great researchers.”
The self-driving DeLorean can autonomously lock itself into a continuous, precise circular donut-like pattern while “drifting”, but has yet to perfect the ability to navigate around tight corners while in mid-drift. The Revs team hopes continued research and technological advancements will allow for such in the near future.
Thankfully, the research team made sure the autonomous DeLorean has no issues reaching 88 m.p.h.