Self-driving cars have been pulled over by cops for going too slow, but what happens when you put 20 mechanically-identical autonomous cars on the same track and ask them to race one another?
Formula E, a global racing league in which only electrical vehicles are allowed to participate, is partnering with Kinetik, a fund investing heaps of money in electric vehicle development, to launch Roborace.
According to Ars Technica, Kinetik founder Denis Sverdlov said, “[Roborace] is a celebration of revolutionary technology and innovation that humanity has achieved in that area so far. It’s a global platform to show that robotic technologies and AI can co-exist with us in real life.”
[Roborace] is a celebration of revolutionary technology and innovation that humanity has achieved in that area so far. It’s a global platform to show that robotic technologies and AI can co-exist with us in real life. Thus, anyone who is at the edge of this transformation now has a platform to show the advantages of their driverless solutions and this shall push the development of the technology.
Quoted in a BBC article, Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag echoed Sverdlov’s sentiments: “Roborace is an open challenge to the most innovative scientific and technology-focused companies in the world.”
Driverless vehicles are not entirely foreign to the speedway. An Audi RS7 known as Robby successfully traversed California’s Sonoma Raceway, even competing with experienced human drivers in terms of lap times. The real art of the autonomous racing vehicle rests on its ability to race competitively, though. Roborace teams will each have two cars. With identical mechanical setups, the competition they experience with one another will be a result of their AI coding. (Having two cars per team throws yet another interesting programming variable into the mix.) One of the teams will be comprised of a crowdsourced community team, made up of both autonomous car gurus and hobbyists.
Formula E has gained support for its crowdsourcing methods. At only two years old, it allows fans to vote for their favorite driver to give them a leg up on their competition.
The DARPA Challenge was another autonomous vehicle race which took place in 2008, though success seemed to be more about which cars could finish, let alone win.
Will Roborace attract motorsports fans or members of the AI and tech-geek communities? A little of both, perhaps?