Shelley The Self-Driving Audi Is Faster Than You Are

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

The already fragile egos of HPDE drivers are about to take another hit. Shelley, the autonomous Audi TT-S developed by Stanford, has tried her first lapping day, and the results were promising.

Shelley is capable of lapping in Thunderhill in well under two and a half minutes, which won’t win her any SCCA trophies. According to the article at Singularity Hub, however, she’s within a few seconds of “professional drivers” already. The exact laptimes aren’t available, so it’s impossible to know if she is running 2:29 or 2:14.

The Stanford people say that Shelley is particularly good at judging corner entry speed — which is interesting because that’s exactly the task that most novice track drivers get very wrong. In fact, you can argue that accurate corner estimation is the single most important task a racer faces.

Watching the very short snippets of in-car video is interesting because you can clearly see the car working the wheel back and forth mid-corner to find out the available grip. This little rocking motion is common to racing drivers everywhere, particularly in wet conditions. Note, too, that the Audi’s nose doesn’t change direction when this happens; that’s because, as I’ve shown my students many harrowing times, when you’re already at the right speed for the corner, turning the steering wheel more accomplishes nothing.

Shelley’s now run Pikes Peak and Thunderhill. If she can just make it down to Pebble Beach next year, she’ll have accomplished more than pretty much every working motoring journo in the business. Thank G-d she can’t write.


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  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Aug 23, 2012

    this is really just an advanced chess board its been well established that computer chess programs cam now beat 99.999999% of all human players (has issues with certain Russian dissidents) of course you can program a car to excel at one track its an advanced rat maze if you will, its only 3 mile track or whatever it is

  • BrentNelson BrentNelson on Aug 23, 2012

    nice !!! Automatic cars will be take place of manual drivers cars in future. Automatic cars are designed with all safety precautions , so it will have near 0% chances of accidents . sometime because of human errors or mistakes made accidents . To avoid this We can use this cars . I will but one. Shelly is really great automatic car as we are seeing in this video . Thanks for sharing this great post!!!

  • Probert There's something wrong with that chart. The 9 month numbers for Tesla, in the chart, are closer to Tesla's Q3 numbers. They delivered 343,830 cars in q3 and YoY it is a 40% increase. They sold 363,830 but deliveries were slowed at the end of the quarter - no cars in inventory. For the past 9 months the total sold is 929,910 . So very good performance considering a major shutdown for about a month in China (Covid, factory revamp). Not sure if the chart is also inaccurate for other makers.
  • ToolGuy "...overall length grew only fractionally, from 187.6” in 1994 to 198.7” in 1995."Something very wrong with that sentence. I believe you just overstated the length by 11 inches.
  • ToolGuy There is no level of markup on the Jeep Wrangler which would not be justified or would make it any less desirable [perfectly inelastic demand, i.e., 'I want one']. Source: My 21-year-old daughter.
  • ToolGuy Strong performance from Fiat.
  • Inside Looking Out GM is like America, it does the right thing only after trying everything else.  As General Motors goes, so goes America.