We popped along to the Goodwood Festival of Speed this morning to check out a driverless car with a difference – the car was being piloted by someone hundreds of metres away, with the communication between the car and driver taking place over a special installation of Vodafone’s fledgling 5G network.

The car – a Lincoln MKZ - was in the ‘drifting’ arena area at the festival, while the driver was a way away inside the Future Lab, Goodwood’s showcase of future tech.

You can see the car in action in the arena here: 

The demonstration was designed to showcase the low latency of 5G, one of the key benefits of the new network tech. Indeed, the demo was particularly effective at showing the latency off – albeit with hardly any other 5G network users in the vicinity. After all, there has to be a near-zero delay to enable the piloting of the car, in this instance in the virtual hands of drift champ Vaughn Gittin Jr. who was wearing a Samsung VR headset.

The 5G communication with the car actually took place over a Samsung S10 5G handset placed on top of the car, although this was obviously for show rather than anything else.

Gittin Jr. has also piloted the car up the famous Goodwood hill climb, too.

Pocket-lintThis driverless car was completely remote-controlled over 5G image 4

The vehicle is powered by a Designated Driver teleoperation system. Its tech enables the seamless teleoperation of autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles, primarily for safely overcoming obstructions or challenging terrain. “We’re excited to be here showing the world what is possible when you combine teleoperation, virtual reality and 5G,” said  Manuela Papadopol, CEO of Designated Driver. “We’re able to achieve the lowest latency possible [with 5G], enabling Vaughn to pilot the car at relatively-high speeds.”

“I’ve built my career on pushing the limits of car control,” said Gittin Jr. but I have never envisioned myself getting crazy behind the wheel using VR, phones and remote driving gear.

Gittin Jr. piloted the car from Samsung’s Future Lab zone where he sat in a state-of-the-art G-force Vesaro racing seat.

The Future Lab at the Goodwood Festival of Speed is open from today until 7 July.