Ford Wants to Patent an Autonomous Racecar Mode

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Last weekend’s Daytona 500 had one of the most exciting finishes of all time.

It was like a movie scene, with two cars fighting to be the one to make it over the finish line first. It probably left a lot of fans wishing they could get behind the wheel of a racecar, and now Ford wants to give them that chance.

You can already take advantage of drive experiences that let you get into a racecar and take it out for some laps on a real track. It’s fun, but you’re limited by your own skills, which likely are not on par with those of Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin.

Ford feels your pain and, according to a patent filing, it’s looking to patent a personalized system for cars that includes not just a “sport” setting, but a “racecar” setting. It will all be part of the user interface on autonomous cars, which will change how the car drives. It’s similar to the drive mode settings in cars today, but it takes things further, since no human will be manning the wheel.

According to OppositeLock, they’re calling the settings “personalities”, and they’ll include changing elements like ambient light color, driving dynamics, and even the car’s electronic voice.

Imagine a soothing voice and happy green lights for eco mode, but bright red accents for racecar mode. We’d like to know what kind of voice that mode would include.


The racecar mode is intended only for use on a closed course, not for trips to the grocery store or dropping off the kids at school. It would operate the vehicle as though it was driven by a professional racecar driver. This would be the equivalent of taking a hot lap with a pro, but without that pro actually sitting in the car with you.

The way autonomous cars are touted today is all about safety and convenience. They’ll reduce accidents and provide mobility to people who aren’t able to drive themselves. They’ll reduce traffic congestion to save time. Combined with ride-sharing services, they’ll bring access to those who can’t afford cars or only need them on rare occasion. None of the benefits have focused on how they might be fun.

Imagine a car taking Grandma for a hot lap. That’s pretty fun stuff. Even better, imagine a car taking you out on the racetrack. It could inspire you to get some lessons, take the wheel yourself, and have a little fun.

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin