Roborace: World’s first driverless race to take place at Autosport International 2018 this month

Keeping the panic and Hollywood sci-fi aside, Roborace will actually serve as a platform for the development of autonomous technology in an extreme environment.

By: | Published: January 3, 2018 12:54 PM

We've got some disconcerting news for lovers of traditional methods of using a race car driver for winning racing events such as Formula 1 or the electric equivalent Formula E. Autosport International 2018 will see its Autosport Stage hold a 'Roborace' with all-electric race cars but with no humans to drive them. We earlier reported last year on the development of these autonomous racing cars, and the world’s first driverless electric racing competition, is set to take pride of place and visitors will have an opportunity to get close to Roborace’s autonomous ‘Robocar’ from Friday through to Sunday. Self-driving tech is quite the rage in the world automotive scenario, but while it may come as a blessing in terms of commuting, I do find driverless racing cars is a bit absurd. Over the years, Formula 1 drivers and fans alike have felt how the advancement of technology has made the driver a bit less important than they used to be, and this race makes the human input absolutely redundant. Who will you be cheering for! The winner will not even be overwhelmed by the feeling of having won.

Anyhow, whatever we may say we have to give to the boffins who have made getting this race together possible. It may sound like the plot of a Hollywood movie when somehow things go wrong and the machines take over, but it is quite commendable the human race has attained this level of smartness. Now, the visitors may not be as disappointed while making the first contact. Speaking of Hollywood films, the Robocar, capable of speeds of over 320 km/h, was designed by the automotive futurist behind vehicles in Hollywood movies 'Tron' and 'Oblivion'.

Keeping the panic and Hollywood sci-fi aside, Roborace will actually serve as a platform for the development of autonomous technology in an extreme environment, which would in turn educate the public about the benefits and safety of these technologies when they make it onto our roads at scale.

Roborace gives organisations developing driverless technologies an extreme yet safe environment to test their software and hardware pushing them to the limits of their capabilities. Robocar’s Nvida Drive PX2 GPU “brain” is capable of up to 24 trillion A.I. operations per second.

The Robocar is a sleek cabin-less, high-downforce production racer, and does make the current generation of F1 cars look a bit archaic. It is powered by four electric motors that make 300kW each and a 540kW battery that help it attain the top speed of 320 km/h while running on Michelin road tyres.

There is no driver and the Robocar has a mind of its own, quite literally. Robocar's brain can carry out 24 trillion A.I. operations per second! It thinks using NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2, that uses five lidars (light detection and ranging system), two radars, 18 ultrasonic sensors, two optical speed sensors, six AI cameras, and GNSS positioning to get around the race tracks. Come to think of it, the only eligible owner for such would be Robocop, but where will he sit.

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