Self-steer­ing cars to race

Elec­tric races to be prov­ing ground for robots

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - ALWYN VILJOEN

DE­NIS SVERDLOV

Founder of Kinetik and Rob­o­race

‘The mis­sion of Rob­o­race is to demon­strate that the fu­ture of au­to­mo­tive and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is al­ready here and can even work in ex­treme con­di­tions.’

THE 60 drifters and spin­ners who will wow the crowd at Ma­sons’s Mill with their pre­ci­sion car con­trol on Sun­day, all won­der what is the point of the new cham­pi­onship se­ries for driver­less elec­tric cars.

Called Rob­o­race, the se­ries will join the For­mula E se­ries and was an­nounced for Kinetik this week.

De­nis Sverdlov, Founder of Kinetik and Rob­o­race, ex­plained the se­ries will pro­vide a com­pet­i­tive plat­form to test the au­tonomous driv­ing so­lu­tions that are now be­ing de­vel­oped by many large in­dus­trial au­to­mo­tive and tech­nol­ogy play­ers as well as top tech uni­ver­si­ties.

Svedlov said the plan is to run a Rob­o­race be­fore each of the FIA For­mula E Cham­pi­onship races, with the first race in­tended to take place next year.

Ten teams, each with two driver­less cars, will com­pete in one­hour races over the full cham­pi­onship sea­son.

Be­cause its is not the car, but real-time com­put­ing al­go­rithms and AI tech­nolo­gies that are be­ing put to the test, all the teams will have the same cars equipped with their dif­fer­ent soft- and hard­ware.

“The mis­sion of Rob­o­race is to demon­strate that the fu­ture of au­to­mo­tive and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is al­ready here and can even work in ex­treme con­di­tions, said Svedlov.

“Rob­o­race be­lieves that there is a lot of in­de­pen­dent tal­ents in the world that might con­trib­ute to this ini­tia­tive.

“That is why one of the race teams will be or­gan­ised as a crowd-sourced com­mu­nity team open for en­thu­si­as­tic soft­ware and tech­nol­ogy ex­perts all over the world.

Fur­ther sup­port for both For­mula E and Rob­o­race shall come from Charge, an au­to­mo­tive start-up founded by Kinetik that de­vel­ops rev­o­lu­tion­ary range-ex­tended elec­tric pow­er­trains for com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles.

Charge will be­come Of­fi­cial Truck Part­ner of the FIA For­mula E Cham­pi­onship and will pro­vide elec­tric trucks for the driv­ers’ pa­rade, tow­ing trucks for emer­gency re­cov­ery of the rac­ing cars and shut­tles for trans­porta­tion of guests and vis­i­tors of the cham­pi­onship around the eVil­lage.

Ale­jan­dro Agag, CEO of For­mula E, said in a state­ment: “We are very ex­cited to be part­ner­ing with Kinetik on what is surely one of the most cut­ting-edge sport­ing events in his­tory.

“Rob­o­race is an open chal­lenge to the most in­no­va­tive sci­en­tific and tech­nol­ogy-fo­cused com­pa­nies in the world.

“It is very ex­cit­ing to cre­ate a plat­form for them to show­case what they are ca­pa­ble of and I be­lieve there is great po­ten­tial for us to un­earth the next big idea through the unique crowd­sourced con­test.”

Fur­ther de­tails and an­nounce­ments about the teams and tech­nolo­gies to be used will be made early next year.

It is not only on track that elec­tric cars are charg­ing ahead. The fully elec­tric Eco Pow­ered 4x4 com­pleted the Rally of Morocco in Oc­to­ber and will be raced in the 9 000 km Dakar in Jan­uary, with Ar­gen­tinean Ariel Ja­ton and Spa­niard Gas­ton Scaz­zuso pi­lot­ing the car. Eight bat­tery packs drive the mo­tor and a roof of high-yield pho­to­voltaic so­lar pan­els recharge the ve­hi­cle’s elec­tronic com­po­nents, nav­i­ga­tion, light­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems. PHOTO: DAKAR.COM

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