Meet MARTY, the Newest Research Car on Campus

The connected vehicle industry is growing more and more each day, with large brands announcing the development of new revolutionary technology quite often. Thus, we need to start focusing on safety issues that were already pointed out by test drivers and specialists. This is why the research car was manufactured.

The people at Stanford created this vehicle. They even took it one step further and decided to take the business perspective into account as well. And this is how MARTY came to be. By its full name, Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control, the vehicle is already proving to be useful for student-based studies.

Why was MARTY built?

One of the main things that drove us to evolve as a species was the need for safety. This is why MARTY was born as well. At least, this is what Chris Gerdes, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford, based his argument on.

He and his students at Stanford decided to use a vintage 1981 DeLorean and turn it into the newest research car there is. With the software it has on board, MARTY can undergo high-performance tests which will eventually determine the physical limits of autonomous driving.

“We want to design automated vehicles that can take any action necessary to avoid an accident. The laws of physics will limit what the car can do, but we think the software should be capable of any possible maneuver within those limits. MARTY is another step in this direction, thanks to the passion and hard work of our students. Stanford builds great research by building great researchers.” said Chris Gerdes in an interview.

So what can this research car do?

MARTY gives a general image on the research, which is carried out by the team. The car was driven primarily by Jonathan Goh, a mechanical engineering graduate student in Gerdes’ Dynamic Design Lab (DDL).

Besides primary characteristics, MARTY also possesses a feature called Electronic stability control, or ESC. This system is not unique to this research car, since it is installed in most modern vehicles as well. Its main priority is to make sure that the car stays within limits in terms of 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,” Gerdes said. “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.”

The main principle on which Stanford based their MARTY design is that autonomous cars must be able to handle all operating regimes, no matter how difficult and complex they are. The main challenge is using a car’s core system and determining it to self-generate commands that will keep both the vehicle and its passengers safer.

MARTY, an Insight into the Future

The results didn’t hesitate to show. The students, alongside their teachers, partners and MARTY, succeeded in giving us a quick peek into the security side of the connected car industry.

For more information on the subject, check out Stanford’s website for interviews and reviews on MARTY.

Also, if you need more information about the connected car industry in general, specifically its trends and its future, then check out my other posts to get real-time news and opinions from experts.

If you would like to share any opinions with us regarding this subject, feel free to use the comment section below. I would be more than happy to hear what you have to say. 

Philipp Kandal