Watch this self-drifting stadium truck tear up a dirt track

Roborace, eat your heart out.

Did you know that Georgia Tech (aka Georgia Institute of Technology) has its own autonomous racing facility? It does, and researchers are currently working on algorithms that will allow vehicles to drive in an aggressive manner. Because no story is complete without proof of concept, they filmed a stadium truck drifting about like a madman (madcomputer?).

According to the video, which is quite thick on the tech, the diminutive truck is able to accomplish this feat using a "stochastic optimal control method that relies on forward sampling trajectories...[which] allow the algorithm to evaluate many possible control sequences."

To remove the degree requirement for understanding this concept, it basically charts a whole load of paths and creates a smooth average that it then follows. I think. I failed out of engineering after about two years. Do yourself a favor and never attempt 400-level linear algebra. Skip to about 1:45 if you want to get right to the action.

Frankly, I find this fascinating. That the vehicle is able to compute a smooth path while being subject to loose terrain (and the oversteer that comes with it) is astounding. Just imagine it in full scale with real trophy trucks. Sure, it takes some (or all) of the fun out of racing, but the fact that we're creating systems that can even do this is awesome.

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