MWC 2017: Roborace unveil first driverless electric race car

Thomas Wellburn
February 28, 2017

Robot racing series Roborace showcased the worlds first driverless car at MWC in Barcelona, which CEO Denis Sverdlov says will “bring humans and robots closer together”.

The car was designed by Daniel Simon, an automotive designer who is famous for creating vehicles in Hollywood sci-fi films such as Tron Legacy and Oblivion. Judging on the sheer appearance alone, it’s obvious that he’s taken design cues from those blockbusters. If Roborace becomes reality, ten of these production cars will race and compete around a track. Each will provide teams with identical hardware, which is then improved using the software element alone. Think of it as the perfect hackers racing sport, where coders take center stage to program their vehicle for maximum performance.

Driverless technology is no easy game and Robocar uses a number of sensors to achieve this. Five lidars (like a radar, but using light from a laser), two radars, 18 sensors and six cameras provide situational awareness for the vehicle. This is all crunched by the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2, a CPU capable of up to 24 trillion A.I. operations per second. The vehicle itself is made primarily of carbon-fibre, weighing 975 kilograms. Powered by four motors and a single battery, it will be capable of speeds over 320 KPH (200 MPH).

The reveal has been quite a bit deal, especially as the car was only tested last week around Buenos Aires. Two of them went head-to-head at the circuit and the test was hailed a majority success. We say this because one did crash… but that’s part of the sport anyway. At least this time, there’s no human life at risk when accidents do happen. Elon Musk has already been pretty vocal about this in the past, stating that driving is too dangerous for humans and will be banned when driver-less cars are proved safer.

Robocar hopes that the innovation learned here will be applied to future road cars, making “passenger and commercial vehicles safer”. Roborace is expected to debut sometime this year, using the same events as what are currently found in Formula E.

About the Author

Share this article