Driverless truck convoys, driverless taxi fleets, it’s only natural that we take the driver out of the racecar as well. Sometime in the next year or two the Formula E electric car racing series plans to have its first driverless Roborace.
Not only will speeds top 300mph, because there is no driver, it frees up lots of considerations when it comes to design. That head that sticks out of the top of an F-1 car always was always a trouble to design around. You had to protect it and put up a windscreen to make it aerodynamic. When you take that out, you are really are building a missile on wheels.
If this first car prototype looks like something out of the movie Tron that’s not a mistake. The designer of this NVida vehicle is Daniel Simon, the same one that designed the light cycles for the movie.
NVidia, the graphics card company, is using the Roborace as a platform for development of self-driving car technology. Each race will consist of identical cars that share the same spec.
- Gross weight: 2,200 pounds
- Length: 15 feet, 9 inches
- Width: 6 feet, 7 inches
- Wheelbase: 9 feet, 2 inches
The competitive edge will come from the software. These cars will drive themselves. They are not remotely controlled but will use an array of sensors to “see” the road ahead and cars around them.
“Many people from motorsports think it’s going to be a big remote-control car.” But while the Roborace car’s team will program the car to drive, he explained, the car itself will be in charge during actual driving. “All the decisions are happening within the car. Teams cannot manage the car anymore on the course.”
This contest is as much about the spectacle of cool-looking cars racing themselves around a track and showing off the future of self-driving cars powered by NVidia hardware as it is stress-testing the software that can dynamically stream and process data for autonomous vehicles everywhere.
Oh, and for those that just watch the races to see a spectacular crash, apparently there is going to be a “fight mode.”