words: Bill, photo/video: Stanford University
Meet Shelley, the plucky Audi TTS who takes on Thunderhill Raceway by herself…with no human driver.
Stanford University’s Chris Gerdes, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Center for Automotive Research, and his team of students have been testing their autonomous driving algorithms for several years on the aforementioned Shelley. Shelley has reached speeds up to 120 mph but she normally drives around the 50-75 mph mark, closer to the speed where most car collisions occur.
They study how Shelley tackled the twisty chicane, how many Gs she pulled through the turns, and the braking force through those turns.
“A race car driver can use all of a car’s functionality to drive fast,” said Gerdes, a professor of mechanical engineering. “We want to access that same functionality to make driving safer.”
Through several tests and iteration, Shelley is almost as fast an experienced racer around Thunderhill Raceway. Our Golden Gate chapter holds events at Thunderhill and it would be cool to see Shelley against the best that Golden Gate has to offer. I smell a challenge in the future. Watch the video below to see how well Shelley does around the track.