The world is moving fast towards self-driving cars, or autonomous cars, as they are generally called. And the development is taking place at a fast pace. While some may counter this statement, we are all set to get a fully autonomous race series very soon. Yes, you read it right, a race series with no drivers inside the cockpit of the race car.
The fully autonomous race car series, which works in collaboration with the Formula E all-electric race series, is working on a prototype vehicle called the Robocar. In a recent video revealed by the management, the Robocar named Devbot is seen completing a lap without any driver inside the cockpit around the Berlin ePrix circuit, the same circuit where the recent Formula E race took place and our very own Mahindra team won the race.
While the Robocar, that will race in the series will not have a cockpit for the driver, the Devbot development car has a cockpit to give access to drivers for the inputs needed in development. According to the CEO of Roborace, Denis Sverdlov, just as the Formula E is used to accelerate the development of electric vehicles, Roborace will be used to accelerate the development of autonomous cars.
As for the Roborace car, it uses electric propulsion and is operated via connected technology. Daniel Simon, former Bugatti and Volkswagen concept designer is the chief design officer of the Roborace prototype car. Apart from cars, Simon has also been involved with movies such as Oblivion and Tron:Legacy, and has also designed drones, motorcycles, spaceships and Le Mans cars.
To start the series, the Roborace events will take place ahead of the regular Formula E races, on the same circuits as well. The series will feature 10 teams, each fielding two driverless cars, again a standard in car racing series. While the cars will look identical, the teams will compete “using real-time computing algorithms and AI technologies”.
The 41-year-old German said, “My goal was to create a vehicle that takes full advantage of the unusual opportunities of having no driver without ever compromising on beauty. Racing engineers and aerodynamicists have worked with me from the beginning to strike that balance.
“Roborace is as much about competition as it is entertainment. Therefore - and quite unusual in today’s racing world - beauty was very high on our agenda and we work hard to merge the best performance with stunning styling. It was important to us that we generate substantial downforce without unnecessary parts cluttering the car to maintain a clean and iconic look.
“This is largely made possible by using the floor as the main aerodynamic device and we are currently developing active body parts that are more organic and seamless than solutions today. I am excited to be part of the daring team of people who are making this happen.”
Out of the 10 teams planned, one team will be taken by a crowd-sourced and community-funded team, and will take applications from software developers and technology experts worldwide.
Sverdlov, the CEO has described the new series as “gaming, motorsport, technology and entertainment all rolled into one", and that it's designed to “provide a competitive platform for the autonomous driving solutions that are now being developed”.
The mission of the new series aims to demonstrate that "autonomous driving technology is already here, and can even work in extreme conditions. Roborace believes there is a lot of independent talent in the world that might contribute to this initiative.”
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said: “Roborace is an open challenge to the most innovative scientific and technology-focused companies in the world. It is very exciting to create a platform for them to showcase what they are capable of, and I believe there is great potential for us to unearth the next big idea through the unique crowd-sourced contest.”