Stanford upgrades its driverless DeLorean for better drifting

Andrew Tarantola
Senior Editor
Stanford University

There are few experiences more pure in this life than getting a borrowed car sideways in your local Nordstrom's parking lot. Now, digital denizens are afforded the same benefit as humans thanks to a multi-year effort by a Stanford-based research team. They've taught a DeLorean to powerslide like a pro through more than a kilometer of test track.

Back in 2015, the team from Stanford's Dynamic Design Lab electrified and automated an old DeLorean, dubbing it MARTY (Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control). Back then, it did donuts but not much more. Fast forward four years and this thing friggin hauls. MARTY is now capable of drifting its way through a multi-turn kilometer-long test track in mere minutes, while sliding along with human-level precision. Granted, it's not going to be running Mount Haruna without spilling the sake but still.

"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."