Vaughn Gittin Jr. was at Goodwood Festival of Speed, but he wasn’t there to race. Instead, he was there to show off new technology that would let him drift a Lincoln MKZ from the safety of his living room.
While Goodwood is normally home to the latest in luxury sport coupes and hillclimb race cars, it’s also a place where automotive startups like to showcase their latest wares. Last year we saw an autonomous Mustang wobble its way up Goodwood, but this year it seems race organizers have decided to forgo the hoopla of autonomous vehicles in favor of remote-controlled ones.
Designated Driver is a startup from Portland, Oregon that uses simple cell phone technology to allow a driver hundreds, or even thousands of miles away to operate a vehicle remotely. This isn’t all that different from military drones or surgeons operating via remote-controlled robots, but the difference here is that everything is done with simple, off-the-shelf Samsung Galaxy S10 phones.
That, and Vaughn Gittin Jr. is behind the wheel.
Gittin Jr. was tapped to showcase the partnership between Samsung, Ford, and Designated Driver by getting inside a Lincoln MKZ decked out with cameras and with painted windows. Once inside, Gittin Jr. was driven around by Evan, a technician working in Portland some 5,000 miles away.
After a small tour up Goodwood, Gittin Jr. then heads to his own private virtual cockpit to take the MKZ’s “wheel” himself. With a Samsung VR headset displaying the view of each camera connected to Vodafone’s 5G network via S10 phones, Gittin Jr. was able to navigate and even perform a few lazy drifts all without crashing.
This technology would serve as a sort of stepping stone between autonomous and human drivers. Instead of relying on a robot to drive the car, we can rely on a professional who can work from home with a virtual reality headset and a cell phone connection.
However, with the amount of money and resources being poured into self-driving cars, it seems we might just skip this step and go straight to autonomous vehicles.
(via Automotive News)