Autonomous Motorsport with Roborace

Autonomous Motorsport with Roborace

(all images are Copyright Roborace)

Is Roborace the future? No. Do I think it’s going to be an awesome addition to the motorsport calendar? Absolutely!

For those that don’t know, Roborace has been partnered up to support Formula E. The cars will be identical with all advantages gained simply from their real time data management and analysis, and hopefully from the inventiveness of their programmers. But for the naysayers preaching that this is the end of motorsport, or that drivers are no longer required – that’s not the point. We’re being told repeatedly that motorsport should be a breeding ground for innovation, especially for everyday cars and right now autonomous cars are pushing forward massively, especially since the might of Google and Apple got behind them. Not only that but it’s another race series pushing forward with electrical power, again something that is gaining ground and funding in road cars thanks to people like Elon Musk and his Tesla vehicles.

At the risk of enraging fanatical motorsport fans, I cannot wait to see the first events in this series. Not only do the cars look amazing and are jammed full of technology, it opens up a whole world of other industries to be involved with motorsport – something referred to as horizontal innovation.

Think about it for a moment, you might be currently working as a data software engineer building models to crunch data as quickly as possible, or working in games development producing advanced AI to make battling against CPU controlled opponents as lifelike as possible. These are all skills that can be adapted to this new motorsport discipline.

The car seen here is their lovingly named DevBot – what appears to be the lovechild of Darth Vader and an LMP1 racer. They’ve already demonstrated the car around Donington and the Marrakesh street circuit during the Formula E weekend.

So why don’t I think Roborace is the future? I certainly don’t think it can replace traditional motorsport. Instead I see it as an offshoot, something to run alongside and appeal to a completely different generation of fans. Fans who, with hard work and study, could be involved with new and interesting algorithms, shaving tenths off lap times, or producing learning systems that know when and where to be aggressive on the track.

The cherry on top is the look of the cars. Daniel Simon, their chief designer has worked on designs for drones, motorcycles and also items in Tron Legacy and Oblivion – it shows! It truly is something futuristic and modern, without the post-modern styling you’d normally expect. Although I think a few people will wince at the cost to replace some of these body panels should there be a coming together.

Michelin have signed up as the sole tyre supplier, which has led to the awesome livery above – and I we see other big names lending their name to the series. Along with drone racing, I think this is one to watch out for.

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