RoboCars are coming to Formula 1
Autonomous self-driving cars are being considered for the future of privately owned cars and ride-sharing businesses. Now Formula 1 is considering replacing live racers with autonomous cars to change the future of motorsports.
Autonomous racing is currently being led closer to the finish line thanks to RoboRace that has a series of all-electric self-driving race cars. The series is a competition designed to provide each race team with electric, autonomous identical versions of its racecar featuring the same chassis and powertrain.
The goal of the series is to have the race teams customize and improve the algorithms that control the race cars to navigate multiple racetracks on their own. The current superstars of the motorsports world were the racers but autonomous cars could shift the popularity to the programmers instead.
We continue our weekly Instagram lives with @kengushi, a pro drift driver. And yeah, our AIs are passionate about drifting too 🤟
Will this bring us new experiences? Will see 😎
— Roborace (@roborace) April 1, 2020
Roborace’s chief strategy officer, Bryn Balcombe, says the concept for this testing series was in development for over 2 years to focus on the mega-trends in the automotive industry including electric connected and autonomous technology. Roborace wanted to see how autonomous vehicles could impact motorsports in developing and displaying the new technology that will demonstrate the best technology.
The first year of experimenting, Season Alpha, started in 2019 that allows the racing teams to look at different formats of different types of competition tracks to drive the advancement of the newly developed software. Racing the cars against the other teams gives developers the advantage of identifying competitive features to advance their software development and make a better autonomous car for competition.
Roborace features two vehicles in its fleet including the Robocar and DevBot along with the company’s development robot that serves as a platform for testing new software and technology. RoboCar doesn’t feature a cockpit for a driver but DevBot does so they can test with a human using this model.
Roborace is focusing on testing primarily through DevBot to be able to take the software that can be utilized in Robocar. In the past RoboRace was focused on testing racecars in a human versus machine race but are focusing on having a human for the first part of racing and AI for the second part but still conducts test races with only AI racecars.
What an incredible year! 🙏
✅ First-ever autonomous race and overtake
✅ First autonomous car at historic @ShelsleyWalsh
✅ @GWR set
✅ First official autonomous lap time at @FOSGoodwood
✅ Top 10 UK Tech and Science brand on social media pic.twitter.com/kD7MHshRy5
— Roborace (@roborace) December 20, 2019
Balcombe says that humans racing against the AI racecars became more competitive wanting to beat the machine to the finish line. The AI teams also utilize racing with humans to find the next element to help them improve performance against humans.
Balcombe says that the AI cars are approximately 5% to 10% away from reaching the optimal level to compete against humans. RoboRace utilizes the same technology used by street autonomous cars including cameras and sensors around the car.
RoboRace is also using running lidar, radar, machine-version cameras, sonar, and GPS inertial system with the accuracy to be used by a missile guidance system that is similar to Waymo’s ride-sharing technology.
It seems the future of racing will feature enough tech to replace a driver while developing new technology for autonomous streetcars.
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