I Showed My Dad The Future Lab At The Goodwood Festival Of Speed
Meet my Dad - he loves cars and has been working in the automotive industry for a few decades. He also has a best friend named Gordon Bennett and is the king of terrible jokes.
That last bit is immaterial to setting up the story, but it’s important to note - he’s picked up a lot of the classic father traits, except for an allergy to anything remotely technological.
We went to Goodwood and checked out the Future Lab - seeing the (as the name suggests) future of automotive. This included a flying car, autonomous delivery vehicles and a solar-powered car.
So, how did he feel about these developments? Let’s find out.
Wait… You managed to get tickets to Goodwood?
But first, some back story. How on Earth did we get to Goodwood - a notoriously difficult festival to get tickets to? Well, for nearly two decades, me and my Dad have wanted to go. We’d see the coverage on ITV or read about it in the Top Gear magazine at one of the few dealerships he worked at. This led to the same inevitable circle - agree we should go, forget about it then remember when its too late, finding it to be sold out.
Well, not this time. I was incredibly lucky to receive an invite to check out the future of automotive at the FoS Future Lab, and there wasn’t anybody else I would’ve taken with me other than the big guy himself.
Not only were our minds blown by some of the automotive innovation on show in the Future Lab, but we got to do what I’d like to call “member of the press things.” Except for lunch, where I had to flirt my way to getting a second meal for my Dad from the friendly catering staff, we got to do it all - from clambering up into the photographer areas, to ducking under the rope and getting closer than anyone else.
That’s what actually led to this beauty of a shot you see below… But enough of the personal guff. I’ll finish by saying Dad, I love you and hope you enjoyed our lads day out.
But anyway, let’s talk about what you actually come to this blog for - the future. Everybody seems to have a different views on what we can expect in the next 50 years of cars.
How about the gift of flight?
First off, allow me to introduce you to the Aeromobil flying concept car - yep it’s actually a thing low, five years after its first test flight in 2014.
Requiring you get both a driving licence and flying licence, the world’s first flying car to hit the market looks more like a plane with extending wings rather than anything resembling a road car - as big as it is expensive.
On the road, this hybrid car can deliver 300hp of power to the propellor
Does it have a future? While there is no doubt that this is one of the few directions the automotive industry is taking (inspired by science fiction it may seem), it’s a little too early to speculate on whether the world will truly be grasped by flying cars to buy one, but I’ll leave that to the expert.
Dad’s opinion: Skeptical.
“I don’t know about this one, Jay. I wouldn’t want to chop someone up into pieces if I reverse too far.”
A more realistic option is that of solar powered cars, such as the Lightyear One. With five square metres of solar panels and a price tag of just over £100,000, it’s a bit expensive. This isn’t necessarily going to be a easy buy at your local Evans Halshaw dealership - handed to you by a guy with a shiny face, wearing an even shinier suit and trying so hard to tell you how essential those upgrades are.
But personal diatribe aside, you’re paying for some incredible innovation. Curved, integrated solar cells that adorn a car made of lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre, designed with low aerodynamic drag in mind. In fact, it has the best aerodynamic coefficient of any car on the market.
And to those who give the standard guff about it never being sunny in Britain (usually using cliched catchphrases like “typical British summer” or “liquid sunshine”), there is a fast-charging port to get 570km worth of energy within an hour. At max capacity, the Lightyear One can go up to 800km, with the solar roof adding an extra 12km/h range as you drive during exposed sunlight.
Plus, it looks pretty cool. Shout out to the Citroen DS of old in the covered rear wheels there.
Dad’s opinion: Pleasantly surprised.
“It must be a pain to run through a car wash. Better take it by the hand car wash up in Mansfield.”
Delivering the goods
Then we saw the future of delivery - courtesy of the Kar-go. Starting its life in a shed on the Aberystwyth University campus, the team started with a simple idea that is a monumental undertaking - just the same as we’ve become comfortable with the automation of online shopping, adapt this to the physical delivery of the items too!
This automated delivery vehicle would tackle the problem of that final short delivery from the local warehouse to your door. The long-haul package costs are small on a per package basis, but when it comes to that last small distance (the last-mile delivery), the prices are rather high! With Kar-go, the Academy of Robotics plan to be a big part of the predicted 80% of autonomously delivered parcels in the next decade, and cut the cost of this final mile.
The rather futuristic design comes courtesy of Pilgrim Motorsport - chief designer Paul Burgess used to work for the McLaren Formula 1 team, which shows in the rather aerodynamic setup here!
Dad’s opinion: The future (much like garlic bread).
“It’ll stop them bloody buggers who don’t have the foggiest about how to deliver packages on time.”
Final thoughts from my Dad
It’s fair to say the Future Lab captured his imagination, visually demonstrating what he’s been telling me for years - the rate of innovation in cars was fairly stagnant until computing was powerful enough to be utilised and propel the automotive industry into exciting new times.
And that’s what it’s all about, really - changing what is quite the dinosaur in terms of industry age and archaic engineering, into something that will preserve the environment for our future generations and look cool doing it.
You’ve got my Dad’s stamp of approval and trust me, that’s hard to get!
And to finish…
I thought I’d share a personal story about one of the more special Goodwood moments for me. It goes back to when I was 12-years-old, seeing Blackpool Illuminations with my family. There was a giant projector setup playing Gran Turismo Concept - the relatively unknown mini sequel to Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec.
There was a lap record set on the Tokyo circuit which, given my many many hours of GT gameplay, I absolutely annihilated and showed off by typing my name out for the citizens of Blackpool to see on the screen. The car that was used for this time trial (and the one that became my favourite when I went back to playing the game at home) was the Dallara SP1.
To see this car in real-life, complete with original PS2 livery, took me straight back to my childhood. It was an incredible moment, so incredible in fact that I couldn’t get a great picture of it!
This sums up cars to me - they form an incredibly exciting corner of my life that, while I can leave and forget about it for a few years, it will always fascinate me and, now that there’s a more technological angle to the industry, I hope it fascinates you too.