Innovation in the Fast Lane at Goodwood


Tim Peake provides stardust for Future Lab, with the theme ‘Technology for a Better World’ likely to open eyes and minds, writes the Arb’s self-appointed tech-correspondent, Ollie Pickup…

This summer’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, presented by Mastercard from 11th to 14th July, is revving up to be a spectacular showcase of cutting-edge technology and innovation in the automotive sphere and far beyond. Indeed, with astronaut Tim Peake providing stardust, it’ll be, ahem, out of this world.

The event, which has the theme ‘Technology for a Better World’, will provide a thrilling window into the future of automobiles, robotics, drones, and immersive digital entertainment. With such a diverse range of exhibits, there’s something to excite everyone.

At the festival’s heart is the Future Lab exhibition presented by Randox. Now in its eighth year, Future Lab brings together groundbreaking companies and researchers focused on using technology to build a more sustainable, efficient and exciting world.

As an ambassador for Future Lab, Peake serves as an inspiring figurehead for the exhibition’s mission to spotlight world-changing innovations. He made history in 2015 as the first official UK astronaut to visit the International Space Station and has a unique perspective on how technology can expand the boundaries of human achievement.

Peake’s presence at the Festival of Speed underscores the event’s commitment to showcasing cutting-edge vehicles and gadgets and the pioneering spirit that drives progress. With Peake’s support, Future Lab aims to spark the imaginations of visitors, young and old, encouraging them to dream big and embrace the transformative power of science and engineering.

The Future Lab exhibits are divided into four key themes; Protecting the Planet, Robots to the Rescue, Future of Flight and Our World in Pixels.

“We’re delighted to be bringing together some fantastic exhibitors who embody the theme of ‘Technology for a Better World’ showcasing a shift to more sustainable uses of power and innovative uses of technology,” said the Duke of Richmond, Founder of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. “We’re proud that the interactive exhibits play a part in our STEM programme, with visitors able to see crawling robots, pilotless cargo planes, and even jet packs in action in recent years.”

One of the most eagerly anticipated new exhibitors this year is Performit Live. They have developed a revolutionary motion capture app that streams performers’ movements in real-time to anywhere in the world, without the need for expensive studios or equipment. This breakthrough has the potential to transform industries from entertainment to education.

“This year, the Performit Live team is joining us and will demonstrate how technology can give our lives a new dimension, with their live performance augmented with technology engaging audiences and creating an immersive experience,” the Duke of Richmond added. Their exhibit will feature live motion capture performances with animated characters responding and interacting with festival-goers.

I spoke with Performit Live’s Co-Founders, James Banfield and Jon Dalzell, to learn more about their vision. The company’s core system was initially developed for sports coaching, but they saw an opportunity to adapt it to the entertainment industry.

“When James joined the business, we focused on the entertainment industry and then on real-time streaming,” explained Dalzell. “At this juncture, we are the only business that can stream in real-time with very low latency anywhere in the world without a personal computer.”

This pioneering technology opens up exciting creative possibilities, from virtual theatre productions with performers in different locations to DJs hosting simultaneous live shows on opposite sides of the world. Even political leaders are starting to harness the technology – India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has used a digital avatar to communicate with citizens across the vast nation.

Adjacent to Future Lab, the Festival of Speed’s Electric Avenue pavilion will showcase the latest in electric, hydrogen and alternatively-fuelled vehicles. With major automakers rapidly shifting gears towards more sustainable power, Goodwood provides a tantalising glimpse at the zero-emissions vehicles set to hit roads in the coming years.

Other Future Lab highlights will include a solar-powered car developed by students at Durham University, an adorable educational robot called MiRo-E from Sheffield Robotics, and Drone City’s exhibits demonstrating how to design and operate uncrewed aerial vehicles. There will also be agricultural robots that autonomously pick weeds and monitor crops and heavy-lift drones built to transport cargo.

Lucy Johnston, the curator of Future Lab, believes the exhibits’ interactive nature is vital to engaging the public with these complex and sometimes abstract technologies.

“It is always much more compelling when you can get hands-on with a concept to better understand it, particularly the more complex, theoretical ones,” said Johnston. “That way, visitors can apply their own understanding of a concept to imagining and grasping the potential of its application in areas that directly relate to them. It makes the future more real and more relevant.”

Johnston expects the robotics demonstrations to be especially popular as they give a rare insight into a world that can seem mysterious and inaccessible. While some may view the rise of automation with suspicion, she believes events like Future Lab have an essential role in highlighting the positive potential.

“It’s important we inspire visitors with stories in this field because robotics and automation have massive potential to positively change the world, so we need to communicate this and move past the perception that these technologies are negative,” Johnston continued.

As for which specific exhibits she predicts will capture imaginations, Johnston added, “The exhibits that spark imaginations the most are always the ones that transport visitors to places they cannot usually go or that give glimpses into industries that are usually closed off or unseen.”

With its wide array of interactive exhibitions and live demonstrations, Future Lab is poised to do that. Whether you dream of stepping into a virtual world, want to meet a friendly farming robot, or fancy seeing the latest zero-emissions hypercar up close, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has something for technology enthusiasts of all ages.

The event, which takes place on the picturesque grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex, is a wonderful day out for the whole family. Beyond Future Lab and Electric Avenue, festival-goers can see legendary race cars and motorcycles take on the iconic hillclimb route, explore the neon-lit drifting arena, or learn a thing or two at the events’ numerous educational installations.

Whether you’re a hardcore petrolhead or are interested in the future, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is an unmissable chance to see tomorrow’s technology today.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2024 runs from 11th-14th July. Tickets for the festival days start from £70, with free admission for children under 12. Young Persons aged between 13 and 21 get half-price admission. For more details, please visit