MARTY: Autonomous, Electric DeLorean Can Do Donuts


Stanford University engineers have built an autonomous DeLorean capable of stable, precise drifting at large angles in order to study how cars perform in extreme situations, which could ultimately guide the development of autonomous safety protocols. Nicknamed MARTY - short for Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control - the car is proving to be a very useful vehicle for student-driven research. In addition to paying homage to the movie, Back to the Future, the name MARTY provides insight to the types of research to be carried out by the team. Electronic stability control, or ESC, is a feature in most modern cars that ensures that the car stays within the boundaries of stable handling by, for example, applying brakes to certain wheels or even cutting engine power when needed. "In our work developing autonomous driving algorithms, we've found that sometimes you need to sacrifice stability to turn sharply and avoid accidents," says Jonathan Goh, a mechanical engineering graduate student.