An electric engine whirrs to life as tires screech across the asphalt and the smell of burnt rubber permeates the air. A man sits inside this beast, this mechanical masterpiece, this accomplishment of automotive innovation with no hands on the wheel and feet off the pedals. Its name: MARTY, Stanford’s self drifting DeLorean.


Clearly inspired by the time traveling car of Back to the Future, MARTY (Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control) is a technological marvel [1]. Released just in “time” for the film’s 30th anniversary, this invention by Stanford’s Gerdes’ Dynamic Design Lab not only pays respect to the cult classic, but also acts as a groundbreaking achievement in the field of autonomous automotive research [2]. In addition to being incredibly cool, MARTY provides an important step in advancing electronic stability control technology. ESC is “a computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction [that]…automatically applies the brakes to help the vehicle where the driver intends to go [3].” The algorithms, hardware, and software developed due to this project will play a major role in creating automobiles that rely on artificial intelligence.

Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently partnered with Toyota to do just this! Over the next five years, Toyota will donate $50 million to joint research centers at both universities to create driverless cars and a human-centric AI program [4]. This research will hopefully lead to safer and more advanced hands-free automative technology potentially having important impacts on the commercial market as well as a variety of other fields.

Projects such as MARTY and the experimentation being conducted at Stanford and MIT’s respective centers for automotive research are at the forefront of technological advancement. While it may take years or even decades for the work of these scientists, engineers, programmers, and mechanics to come to fruition, it will no doubt have a massive impact on society as we know it. In the words of Back to the Future’s Doc Brown, “your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”


  1. Carey, Bjorn. “Introducing MARTY, Stanford’s Self-driving, Electric, Drifting DeLorean.” Stanford University. Stanford University, Oct.-Nov. 2015. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.
  2. Davies, Alex. “Stanford’s Self-Driving DeLorean Drifts, Does Killer Donuts.” Conde Nast Digital, Oct.-Nov. 2015. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.
  3. “Electronic Stability Control .”, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. <;.
  4. Lienert, Paul. “Toyota Partners with Stanford, MIT on Self-driving Car Research.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 04 Sept. 2015. Web. 01 Dec. 20

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