Roborace unveiled a first look at what its autonomous racing car will look like today, with the series itself kicking off at the end of the year. Roborace has called in sci-fi designer Daniel Simon, the man behind the ships in Oblivion and the Light Cycle in Tron: Legacy, to pen the concept of the driverless race car.
From what we’ve seen today, the results are incredible. Looking like a cross between a Hot Wheels car and a spider, the Roboracer is exactly what we think an exciting, futuristic racing car should look like. Since the cars don’t have to meet driver safety requirements like every other series, the bodywork can be a lot more compact and aggressive.
There are several reasons why modern race cars go as fast as they do. While there are restrictions such as bodywork regulations and safety requirements, there’s also the physical limitations of the driver as well.
Of course, fighter pilots have endured huge g-forces for decades, but drivers have to undergo massive g-forces over long periods of time. They might be able to handle it at the beginning of a race, but their pace could drop off dramatically towards the end if g-forces are consistently too high. Autonomous race cars don’t have to worry about human limitations like exhaustion, which could make the cars extremely fast over the full race distance.
Autonomous motoring is still very much in its infancy right now and there’s already been numerous reports of driverless cars getting confused over road markings and directions, though Google’s self-driving car has only caused one crash itself so far.
One of the most exciting aspects of motorsport is when something goes wrong, because uncertainty is what makes us want to watch it. Driverless cars may be able to successfully navigate a circuit, but what happens when they go for an overtake? How would the cars know how to avoid a potential crash without starting another? There are so many factors that go into driving competitively and safely that we may see chaotic races in the sport’s infancy.
Sadly, we can’t all just jump into a Formula 1 car and win a Grand Prix. For one, you need a hell of a lot of experience before a Formula 1 team will even consider you. You’d also need to be incredibly fit to be able to push an F1 car to its limits.
Roborace could change this all together. While the cars are being developed to race against other cars, imagine if spectators could win the chance to control one from the pit wall, or could influence certain aspects of the racing like a less rubbish version of Formula E’s FanBoost.
A more extreme idea would be to attach weapons onto the cars and have the fans vote for which car gets what weapon. There’s nobody in the car, so there’s a bigger scope for crazy ideas. There’s no way Roborace would do this, but the future of demolition derbys could be wild!
Ok, I know we all want to be the driver and wrestle our cars around a race track, but there’s also the driving we have to do to get to work, or take the kids to school. When you’re exhausted after a long week at work, sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy the end of the day.
A driverless motorsport series would accelerate the development of autonomous technology as manufacturers try to gain an advantage over the competition. Motorsport has been used to advance technology at an accelerated rate since cars first became a thing, so don’t expect that to change just because there’s no longer a driver inside.