Named in honour of American explorer Zebulon Pike, Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern front range of the Rocky Mountains, located within Pike National Forest, 12 miles west of downtown Colorado Springs. It features over 156 turns over nearly 20km! So this route is legendarily challenging, featuring in many films and documentaries which detail the exploits of some of the world’s best drivers. ‘The Race to the Clouds’ (hill climb event) has taken place on these roads annually since 1916.
The route rises by nearly a kilometre and a half over its length so at this altitude, traditional internal combustion engines will find the thin air difficult to cope with. Controlling the vehicle all of the way back down is also an extreme challenge for the braking system to cope with.
The sight-lines in many sections of this track consist almost entirely of sky, making this an interesting challenge for autonomous systems. They will have to control the vehicle’s speed and path with very limited information and minimal margin for error!
Similar to our German road model of K4556 (but much longer!), Pikes Peak is a great example of a steep, winding road with an intently challenging ascent and descent. Road car and autonomous driver developers can make significant demands of their vehicle’s steering, braking and powertrain systems when testing in this road model.
Our motorsport customers also use this model as part of their campaigns to conquer this iconic location for the annual hill climb event.