In case you weren’t aware today is officially Back to the Future day, Marty McFly had traveled to October 21st in the popular franchise and many are commemorating this in their own unique ways. On the eve of this day Stanford University’s automotive lab rolled out MARTY, it’s a self-driving electric car that they’ve built which has amazing drift skills. Their car is a heavily modified version of the DeLorean that’s as popular as the Back to the Future films.
MARTY, which means Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control, is part of the university’s ongoing research on autonomous driving and automotive safety.
The team behind it explains that the reason they wanted to show that a self-driving car can drift was to advance exploration into how autonomous cars and push the limits of handling. For example, self-driving tools can use their drifting skills to avoid a potential road accident. The demonstration video showed that MARTY is quite capable of holding on to a course like a human drift driver can, some might even argue that it does it better than a human would.
Stanford University’s team chose this car because they didn’t want to use one from a major auto manufacturer, besides that the DeLorean has just the right amount of street cred for something like this, but they did have to go through with the arduous process of swapping its engine with electric motors, replacing the steering rack with an electric power steering system and also tweaking the suspension so that the car is able to drift, which wasn’t possible on the original DeLorean.