The concept called MARTY, short for Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control, is the brainchild of Stanford professor of mechanical engineering Chris Gerdes. Jonathan Goh, a mechanical engineering graduate student in Gerdes’ Dynamic Design Lab, has been leading the research around the vehicle.
The project is ultimately aimed at making vehicles safer, but the approach is certainly novel. The team wants to give self-driving cars the ability to drive like a rally racer in order to handle any possible driving situations. Gerdes on the project:
“The very best rally car drivers do this all this time, sacrificing stability so they can use all of the car’s capabilities to avoid obstacles and negotiate tight turns at speed. Their confidence in their ability to control the car opens up new possibilities for the car’s motion. Current control systems designed to assist a human driver, however, don’t allow this sort of maneuvering. We think that it is important to open up this design space to develop fully automated cars that are as safe as possible.”
According to Gerdes, Renovo focused on MARTY’s electric drivetrain and platform, while the Stanford team primarily worked on subsystems and algorithms which are most important to their research goals.
One of Gerdes’ ultimate goals for MARTY is to drift alongside another car steered by a professional driver.