Roborace – Self-Driving Cars Racing at Nearly 200 mph

Racing is a popular sport around the world, whether it be NASCAR, IndyCar, or Formula 1. Formula E has recently made a minor splash, boasting the world’s first racing series for electric cars. But if that wasn’t a big enough step, one can turn to a similar series being developed in parallel to Formula E, Roborace. The Roborace series will be a special series, as it will focus on not only using electric cars, but also, autonomous cars. That’s right, it’s a driverless car, all powered by the latest computer technology, racing around at nearly 200 mph. Fasten your seatbelts. You’re in store for some great driverless racing.

Driverless Cars, Self-Driving Cars, Autonomous Cars – Today’s Driving Technology

When Tesla rolled out its autopilot software in 2015, it seemed like either a miracle or the death of driving. For fans of the beloved automobile, it was another move towards driverless cars. And of course, this could mean the demise of one of the world’s most beloved activities.

But for others, they think of the need to obtain a license, to crawl through congested streets during rush hour, and to fight for every inch of poorly maintained road with morons who should never have gotten their license in the first place. Not the fabled experience of cruising, whether it be “down the strip” like in the 50’s or “down the street in my ’64”.

Roborace Introduces The Pinnacle of Driverless Technology

Roborace logo - Self-Driving Car racing at 200 mph
Source: Wikimedia Commons

No, most of the technology will not be super useful in real-life. Going around at 200 mph will not get you to work any faster during rush hour. But it is cool to watch them flying around the track. The rules are that the car (supplied) will be programmed for the track with real-time algorithms and AI technology. Pushing the autonomous cars to the limit, this will hopefully mean big leaps in driverless car innovation. Ten teams will each send out two cars per race, and a crowd-sourced team of AI developers is being planned.

Recent Tests – Driverless Racing

With development beginning in 2016, the first tests happened in August. Roborace made big news by driving twelve demonstration laps at the Moroccan Formula E race track. The next big news came in February 2017, when the first race between two autonomous cars occurred at the Buenos Aires Formula E race. The two cars raced around at over 100 mph, which was exciting for the driverless technology community.

There was some good news and bad news, however. As we know, the sport of driverless racing is in its infancy. And of course, there was a big crash. One of the two cars failed to cross the finish line, but it’s still early. They have plenty of time to figure it out. The second car (and eventual winner) managed to avoid a stray dog that had run onto the course. With that kind of quick thinking at 100 mph, it bodes well for the future of the sport.

But that being said, there’s still a long way to go. A dog running at 6 mph is nothing compared to 19 other cars battling for position at 150 mph. There will be more big crashes and bumps along the way, but this is an excellent (and fun) way to advance driverless technology.