Driverless Motor Racing: Here’s what a self-driving racing car looks like

Roborace has lifted the lid on its fully autonomous self-driving car, giving us an early glimpse at the future of motor racing.

The British firm behind the robotic racing series debuted the final iteration of its launch vehicle at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. We’d already seen early designs, but this is the first time Roborace has demonstrated the vehicle that will actually be racing.

“I’ve worked on a lot of cool stuff – Tron, Bugatti, Star Wars – but this takes the cake,” said Daniel Simon, who designed the Roborace vehicle.

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Each car comes equipped with six artificial intelligence cameras and an Nvidia Drive PX 2 brain that helps handle 24 trillion operations per second. The car weighs 975kg and can reach incredible top speeds of over 320km/h. According to Denis Sverdlov, CEO of Roborace, the car – and the racing series – will help bring the driverless future closer.

Roborace will help people to accept robots on the road. Because if you ask people if they’ll be okay with robots on the streets, I think you would hear no,” said Sverdlov, speaking to press at MWC 2017. “It’s designed to test all those [driverless] technologies during these extreme conditions.’’

The actual Roborace series will involve 10 teams, each of which will be given one of 10 identical (in terms of hardware, but not paint job) driverless vehicles. It will be their jobs to provide ambitious and powerful software that can win a race, putting software engineers in the limelight – rather than drivers, as is the case with Formula 1.

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Roborace is partnered with Formula E (the electric car racing series) and will conduct races before Formula E races take place. Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, thinks both electric and driverless consumer cars will be improved by these races.

“We have great challenges ahead of us. We have climate change. We have city pollution,” said Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, which helped create the Roborace project. “For all those challenges, technology is the only way. Racing will have a big role on the driverless revolution.”

He added: “It’s extremely important to know how to avoid crashes and collisions, and that safety knowledge will go to the cars.”

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