Goodwood Festival of Speed: The Duke of Richmond on this year's festivities

Spectators enjoying the festival
Spectators enjoying the festival

If you thought Goodwood's Festival of Speed was just about cars then this year's celebration would make you think again.

Of course, cars are central to the annual global-leading Festival and as the Duke of Richmond explained at the launch, the Festival of Speed is the only event in the world which covers all genres of motor sport all at the same time and spanning 100 years.

The Duke with some of the exhibitors at the event

The Duke with some of the exhibitors at the event

But he is passionate about looking forward to developing technologies which stretch way beyond today's understanding of road transport in a way in which no-where else does - an ambition which underpins FoS Future Lab showcased at the Festival.

Speaking on the first day [Thursday July 3] at the aerodrome, the Duke said: "Goodwood has been a traditional estate for over 300 years but also a highly innovative and enterprising one.

"Our little mantra here is horse racing, motoring racing, golf, flying, shooting and cricket. And there's been a serious following of sport here since the 18th century. It all began with fox hunting and we actually run the hounds through all the cars at the members' meeting in the spring just to remind everybody of that. It causes quite a stir.

"The first cricket match was played here in 1702 and was one of the first ever - maybe even the first ever - and we have the earliest written rules of cricket in our archive.

The Duke opening the event with the new Land Rover Defender Prototype

The Duke opening the event with the new Land Rover Defender Prototype

"The third Duke introduced horse racing just on top of the Downs in 1801.

"And the seventh's Duke's children built the golf course before the first world war.

"My grandfather built this [motor racing] circuit and we opened immediately after world war two. The first track opened in September 1948.

"This was a very important airfield in world war two. It played a very important part in the Battle of Britain and we had some of the greatest pilots based here too during that time.

"He was a great innovator my grandfather Freddie and also a very good engineer and pilot and he built a lot of his own aeroplanes, cars and flew a lot of them from here so it's very appropriate what's going on here today.

"It was here, as I say, that my grandfather turned the perimeter track which was a Battle of Britain airfield where they used to push the Spitfires around into a motor circuit in 1948 - and that much to my fury as a small boy that he decided to close it for all sorts of reasons. He didn't like wings on cars which was one of the things he had objections to and in 1966 he closed it down.

"And when I came back to live at Goodwood and took over from my father in the early 1990s one of the first things I tried to do was get this great race track reopened again. And there was a massive wall of resistance which caused me quite a lot of problems and it wasn't until 1998 that we eventually got this going again.

"In the meantime we started the Festival of Speed which is going on at the moment and that's become the biggest car event - car culture event - in the world. Now with over 200,000 people attending this weekend. We were told that first year we'd be lucky if we got a couple of thousand people and when 25,000 people turned up that seemed like a pretty terrifying moment because we had nowhere to put the cars, take the money or do anything. Hopefully after 27 years we are a bit more organised!

"In the very first year of our FoS Future Lab we saw flying cars, supersonic travel and even the preview of the spacewalk. And last year we welcomed the very latest in autonomous transport robotics and personal flight. And this year we will continue that exciting trend.

"We have 12 extraordinary organisations who represent our various themes for 2019. Future of flight, smart cities, life in outer space, robotics, artificial intelligence and earth future.

"Their exhibits are mind-blowing.

"Future Lab represents the next step in the evolution of Goodwood as an estate where we're proud to be showing off what will be the next steps of our society as a whole."

This year FoS Future Lab has expanded, with technological pioneers invited to exhibit their unique visions of tomorrow, based on five key themes: Future of Flight, Smart Cities, Life in Outer Space, Robotics and AI, and Earth Future.

They include:
• Alauda Racing’s global introduction of its new multicopter air-racing, and a new sports league called Airspeeder

• A fully autonomous working twin of the EXOMars rover, built by Airbus Defence & Space

• The official unveiling of Kar-go, of Aberystwyth and Academy of Robotics origin, Europe’s first roadworthy autonomous electric delivery vehicle

• Internationally-renowned British artist Stanza presenting his striking centrepiece to the exhibition, an artistic installation exploring the concept of the connected city of the future

• Aeromobil’s flying cars

• Astroplant, inspiring a new generation of ‘space farmers’ with their ideas for agriculture in space

• Reach Robotics, pioneering online gaming fused with robotics and AI

Sapan Shah, Head of Enterprise Partnerships at Mastercard commented: “Every month, the world’s urban population grows by 6 million and by 2050 more than 70% of the population will live in urban areas.

"Through our collaboration with Stanza, we are asking people to reimagine the possibilities for cities and urban centres in response to this growth. By applying our City Possible philosophy, ‘The Emergent City’, provides a space for people to interact, collaborate and consider the future of urban areas in new ways.

"Cities have been getting “smarter” since their inception – but the inclusion of any new technology needs to ensure that we bring the entire community along to create inclusive, connected and dynamic places to live in the future.”