Jonathan Goh

Stanford Upgrades Its Driverless DeLorean for Better Drifting

In to the future.

After revamping and electrifying an old DeLorean, back in 2015, the team from Stanford’s Dynamic Lab is back again with their autonomous vehicle dubbed MARTY (Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control), for another ride, this time showing off its impeccable precision and performance.


Back then, it did donuts but not much more. Fast forward four years and MARTY is now capable of drifting its way through a multi-turn kilometer-long test track in mere minutes, while drifting along with human-level precision. Who knows, we’ll might get a chance to see it go downhill the Tianmen Mountain, in the far far future.

Superimposed frames, at 0.5-second intervals, from an overhead video of a successful, fully autonomous “Figure 8” drifting experiment on MARTY. This experiment is conducted at speeds of 50km/h, and transitions through +/- 40 degrees of sideslip in about a second. (Image credit: Jonathan Goh)

“We’re trying to develop automated vehicles that can handle emergency maneuvers or slippery surfaces like ice or snow,” mechanical engineer Chris Gerdes said in a statement. “We’d like to develop automated vehicles that can use all of the friction between the tire and the road to get the car out of harm’s way. We want the car to be able to avoid any accident that’s avoidable within the laws of physics.”