Driverless Cars Could Even Redefine Automotive Racing Competitions

For the past few years, self-driving cars have been tested on public roads and in fake cities.

But recently, car manufacturers and some small companies have been using racetracks as a playground to test not only driverless cars, but self-racing vehicles as well.

Joshua Schachter, entrepreneur and organizer at Self Racing Cars, an autonomous racing series, says that:

“The racetrack is a great place to try new stuff out, set it up as a limited environment, no pedestrians, no cross traffic.”

Testing self-driving cars in a controlled, safe and legal environment, such as a racetrack, will help anyone in the industry understand and learn how they can improve the technology of driverless vehicles.

Joshua organizes these self-racing events in Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, Calif. Anyone can participate if they developed a driverless car or autonomous vehicle technology.

Surprisingly, he’s not the only one involved in self-driving cars racing.

Roborace is a new British company which plans to create a complete autonomous racing competition as well. The company already developed self-racing cars, so let’s find out more about them.

Roborace, the First Company to Develop a Driverless Racing Car

Robocar is the world’s first driverless electric racing car, and DevBot are their development cars.

The DevBot allows any team to test and develop software which will later be used for the Robocar. You don’t need to be Tesla or Google to test your software on these self-racing cars. This project is open to anyone, which is a massive advantage for the industry.

The main difference between these two models is that the Robocar has a cabin, which means that it can be driven by a human as well, not just by a computer.

These driverless cars were designed by Daniel Simon, who is the chief design officer of Roborace. He’s best known for working for Tron: Legacy as a vehicle concept designer and also for collaborating with Oblivion and Captain America.

Daniel Simon said that the biggest challenge for him with this project “was creating a car that didn’t look awkward without a driver.” As you can see from the video above, he clearly succeeded.

In February, the first race between DevBot 1 and DevBot 2 happened at the Formula E Buenos Aires ePrix in a 12-turn street circuit, and it was a big day for the company and the industry altogether.

Which brings me to my next point: how will driverless cars change motorsport competitions. 

Redefining Racing Competitions

Traditional racing has one thing in common with driverless vehicles racing: the desire to compete, which brings innovation to surface.

But there’s also a big difference between these two types of racing.

For traditional racing, the competition is all about the engine, the wheel, the design of the car and, most of all, the driver’s skills.

For driverless racing cars, the competition will be between software. The only thing that will differ is going to be the AI, the algorithms, and how the software was built. The winner will be the team which can build the most aware and responsive driverless cars.

It’s also important to note how much these tests are going to accelerate advancements in the self-driving car industry. Teams will be forced to find immediate solutions in case they discover a fault in the system right before an event.

They won’t have the liberty of waiting a few days to figure out the issue. It will be a matter of responsiveness, being quick on their feet and identifying the best solution to implement.

Bryn Balcombe, CTO of Roborace, says that “We’re really creating a championship of intelligence.”

Autonomous vehicle racing can even break the monotony set by traditional competitions because there isn’t anything new and exciting that the industry has come up with.

Also, it’s important to note that autonomous racing is most likely aimed at a different demographic than the ones which enjoy NASCAR.

In a NASCAR subreddit, most people voted that they would not be interested if autonomous cars are racing. The main reason for that is because the most critical element, the human driver, is missing.

So, this new sport may be targeted towards today’s kids or those who are passionate about technology and developing software.

Philipp Kandal