Roborace Wants Humanless Electric Racing by 2021

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Roborace will be a global competition for autonomously driven electric powered vehicles as part of Formula E.

Notice I said “will be”. The team at Roborace is still working out the kinks with test runs on the same tracks the FIA Formula E Championship uses.

  • Roborace plans to be first autonomous electric car championship

  • DevBot 2.0 has a claimed top speed of 190 mph

  • Eventually, a field of autonomous racers will compete on the same tracks as Formula E

From the imagination of Daniel Simon, the Robocar is a hot looking number with a futuristic feel. It’s no wonder, Simon created vehicles for films like Prometheus, Captain America and Tron Legacy. Before that, he cut his teeth at Volkswagen, designing for Audi, Bentley and Bugatti. With its teardrop-shape and four electric motors producing over 500hp, Robocar can reportedly reach speeds of over 190mph.

When Did Roborace Start

The development of Robocar went really quickly. Started in early 2016, a test vehicle hit the track that summer. The “DevBot”, as it is called, retained the same battery, motor and electronics as Robocar, but rode on a Ginetta MMP3 chassis minus the engine cover for better cooling.

It was in August  2016 that the public got its first viewing of DevBot in Donington Park at the Formula E pre-season tests. Battery issues plagued a demonstration run in Hong Kong, but the DevBot rallied in Marrakesh, successfully completing twelve laps around the Moulay El Hassan Formula E circuit. Another test at the 2017 Buenos Aires ePrix didn’t fare so well. As two DevBots raced against each other, one of them crashed while cornering — even robots get the red-mist.

But Roborace CEO and Formula E champion Lucas Di Grassi and his team keep refining the concept. Since the technology thus far doesn’t successfully support fully autonomous racing, in 2018 Robocar modified the competition. It introduced the Human + Machine Challenge at the Rome ePrix, which paired pro-drifter Ryan Tuerck and a DevBot.

Just last week Robocar released pictures on its Twitter account of three prototypes. Inspired by LMP race cars, the second-generation car is called DevBot 2.0. Unlike Robocar, it features a cockpit. A human driver will compete in the first half of the race, while the autonomous system will drive the second half.

Advancing Autonomous Car Development

The idea behind Roborace is to provide a platform for people in the transportation space to test the development of their automated driving systems through sport. In line with the mission, all participating competitors will utilize the same chassis and powertrain, but will have to develop their own algorithms and artificial intelligence technologies.

While Robocar didn’t meet its ambitious schedule to get Roborace up and running and in the fashion first imagined, the team continues to tenaciously push forward. The company says it foresees the first championship race in 2021 with yet another evolution of the car to incorporate the best of Robocar and DevBot 2.0. And, word is the DevBot 2.0 electric prototypes will hit circuits in Spain, Italy, the UK, Hungary and the United States.

The electric car racing world is heating up. Check out another cool electric car competition we talk about, a new rallycross event called Project E.


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