5G and VR’s Drift into Motorsports

Paul Hadley
08/27/201927th August, 2019
Filed under Car Topics

As the world is getting ready to welcome a global 5G rollout, the drifting scene already got a chance to see in practice how modern technological developments could potentially disrupt the industry.

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The showcase happened last month at the Goodwood Festival of Speed where Vaughn Gittin Jr. used 5G connection and VR to remotely “drive” a Lincoln MKZ nicknamed S-Drone.


Drift Champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. will make 5G history by remotely driving this first-of-its-kind virtual reality car, starting his journey with an initial “drive” up the world-famous Goodwood Hillclimb prior to the opening,“ said on Samsung UK’s blog.

Much of the Lincoln – modified by Samsung for remote-controlled use – was covered in black and white camouflage-like foil, except for the bonnet, the lower third of the body, and the back spoiler which were wrapped in blue and carried Samsung’s logo.

The Korean electronics manufacturer also provided a couple of Galaxy S10s which were mounted on the car’s roof as live-streaming devices which transmitted to a Samsung VR headset.

Vodafone’s 5G

The other major partner of the showcase was Vodafone, which provided the 5G network used to make the connection between all the devices.

The mobile carrier is one of several that already opened 5G networks in select UK‌ locations.

So far Vodafone’s next-gen network is available in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, and Manchester, with plans to go live in 12 more UK‌ cities by the end of the year.

Vodafone UK’s Consumer Director Max Taylor commented about the technology for Samsung’s blog that “Vodafone’s 5G network provides speeds up to 10 times quicker than 4G and super-low latency, which is critical for this application [remote-controlled car operation] where instantaneous response time is crucial.”

Designated Driver

Samsung provided the electronics, Vodafone facilitated the connection, but it was US-based startup, Designated Driver that brought teleoperations software.

The company develops vehicle teleoperation technologies that allow for remote-controlled operation of autonomous vehicles.

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While Vaughn, drifting over a hundred yards away from it is impressive enough, during the demonstration, the startup pulled an even more remarkable feat.

The Designated Driver team successfully managed to operate the Lincoln from their office, which is some 5000 miles away from Goodwood.

“We were concerned about the latency. We didn’t know. We’re in the middle of nowhere, and we didn’t know what to expect,” said for Automotive News Designated Driver’s CEO‌ Manuela Papadopol.

In the end, the latency turned out to be negligible enough to not interfere with operations.

Tech at Goodwood

Of course, other technologies are becoming a staple for the motor world, and in 2017 the Festival of Speed began a tradition with its Future Lab event where visitors can witness the latest breakthroughs in the industry.

Aside from the remotely-operated Lincoln, the event showcased a flying car concept, a solar-powered vehicle, and even a submarine simulator among many other exciting innovations.

The exhibition featured the presence of many big names in the tech industry; among them, Facebook, HTC, Samsung, Siemens, and Sony.

In Sum

5G and VR are no longer something that’s developed behind the closed doors of labs run by bright engineers. Both technologies are now publicly available and are set to transform many industries which rely on visualization and fast network connectivity.

The entertainment world is among the earliest adopters of technological breakthroughs. Movie streaming, games, and multimedia, in general, are all dependent on good visuals and a reliable internet connection to provide the best experience possible. VR has already made a mark on the industry, but 5G is yet to enter a wide adoption stage.

At the same time, several cloud gaming services are set to hit the market this year or soon after, possibly marking a new era for gaming in general.

However, as Goodwood showed, these technologies and many more, can and already do find use in lots of other areas. While the entertainment aspect of Vaughn Gittin Jr. drifting a remotely-operated car is unquestionable, the event aimed to present the capabilities of the upcoming next-gen mobile network, the devices that will make use of it, and the most recent breakthroughs in an area that’s getting quite competitive—autonomous vehicles.

author avatar Written by Paul Hadley

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