Formula E, the global all-electric racing series, has partnered with a company called Kinetik to form the world’s first driverless car racing series. The new support series, called Roborace, will run its races before each scheduled Formula E event starting next season.
Roborace will pit ten teams — each armed with two cars — against each other in hour-long races on the same street circuits that the Formula E cars compete on. Each one of the 20 autonomous electric cars will be the same as the next, so teams will have to focus on developing better algorithms and artificial intelligence to win. It’s similar strategy to how Formula E teams were made to run the same cars in the electric series’ debut season, which helped place an emphasis on the development of battery technology.
“In terms of technology we’re trying to make them better than humans. So it means we expect the cars will have high acceleration and high speeds,” Denis Sverdlov, from Kinetik, the company that will make all the cars, told WIRED.
“Even if the first race isn’t going to be as high-speed as the current one can do, it is still going to be a huge achievement.”
He said the cars would have top speeds of “more than 300kph (186mph)”, but added they were still in the early stages of development. The races will see the electric battery-powered cars competing against each other for one hour.
It’s an interesting move, and Formula E is certainly the right partner for Roborace, but even that series has still to win over some motorsport diehards. Will people still find racing interesting if there aren’t humans in the cars? It may dissuade those who only show up to watch the crashes, but perhaps their places can be taken by AI enthusiasts and futurologists. I mean, what’s more futuristic than robots racing each other?