Driver­less racing cars are mak­ing it on to the cir­cuits

Motor Sport News - - Engineering Supplement -

The re­cent For­mula E round in Mar­rakech, Morocco, staged the de­but of some­thing that, de­pend­ing on your point of view, may ei­ther be the fu­ture of racing or its death knell.

Devbot#1, the pro­to­type elec­tric car for the pro­posed driver­less Roborace se­ries, lapped for 30 min­utes with­out in­ci­dent dur­ing a demon­stra­tion run.

The devel­op­ment plan will next put two cars on track, grad­u­ally build­ing to a full field with the pro­duc­tion Roborace car (Devbot#1 can also be driven by a hu­man driver) in ac­tion.

“At some point we’re go­ing to be hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about driver­less cars,” says For­mula E an­a­lyst Marc Pri­est­ley. “The road car in­dus­try is un­doubt­edly head­ing in that di­rec­tion and so it’s some­thing we can’t avoid dis­cussing in racing. It’s a strange con­cept be­cause there’s a per­sonal at­tach­ment to driv­ers; they are the com­po­nent we get be­hind and sup­port in motorsport – but at the same time the tech­nol­ogy, I think, is fas­ci­nat­ing.

“As we learn and de­velop the al­go­rithms that run driver­less cars, they will com­pletely trans­form the mo­tor in­dus­try and prob­a­bly our daily lives. Be­ing able to wit­ness things like this on the track makes it a very ex­cit­ing time to be in­volved in motorsport. We re­ally are shap­ing the fu­ture – and I don’t feel that racing has been able to say that for quite a few years.”

Devbot#1 also tested at Don­ing­ton Park last year

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