Roborace Is The Driverless Electric Racing Series No One Asked For

Formula E and Kinetik have announced a bizarre new project, bringing a driverless and fully electric racing series to race tracks in 2016

Remind me later
Image source: FIA Formula E
Image source: FIA Formula E

Remember Formula E? The all-electric single-seater championship that quietly burst onto the motorsport scene last year? Well, now it has announced a new support series featuring 20 identical cars, all of which will be driverless.

It will be a great way of developing autonomous and AI technology, there is no denying that, but will it really work as a motorsport series? Each race will last one hour, with 10 teams (each with two cars) competing on the same street tracks as Formula E.

Roborace is certainly an interesting concept and one that will generate a lot of attention ahead of its debut during the 2016-2017 Formula E season, but it will put viewers in an unusual position. Who do you support? There are no drivers to cheer on, no manufacturers fighting it out. Plus, how can you celebrate a result when there isn’t anyone driving the car? Podium ceremonies will be pretty quick…

Image source: FIA Formula E
Image source: FIA Formula E

AI and driverless technology is still very new and with not much time before the cars hit the track, it will likely be a problematic start. Perhaps the first corner will be chaos like on a racing game. What happens if they spin out or hit the wall? Maybe they will just drive into the barrier, with the throttle to the floor until the motor unit overheats, like in old F1 titles. Or worse, the cars might all drive in an overly cautious manner, making for a boring race. There are lots of potential issues.

Also, the logo is pretty scary, right?

The series also takes away a lot of what makes motorsport great - the talented drivers, wrestling the cars, the human mind at work and the race craft being shown. Watching driverless cars programmed to race around a track will be very different and doesn’t sound particularly fun, although proof will be in the pudding.

The novelty will probably wear off pretty quickly, too. So you’ve seen cars without a driver race a few times, then what? The use of real-time computing algorithms and AI technologies could either create the great racing we all pray for or something completely disastrous, dull and boring.

So, what do you think, are you excited for Roborace, or don’t care whatsoever? Let us know in the poll below!