Fresh thinking: autonomous racing, CAR+ April 2016 | CAR Magazine

Fresh thinking: autonomous racing, CAR+ April 2016

Published: 14 March 2016 Updated: 18 March 2016

► We look at autonomous racing
► ‘Roborace’ proposed for 16/17 season
► 186mph top speed, 20 cars, 10 teams

Racing cars without racing drivers?

Not content with taking the engine noise out of racing, it seems the all-electric Formula E championship has got it in for drivers, too, proposing an autonomous support series for the 2016/17 contest. ‘Roborace’ will feature 20 identical 186mph electric cars, 10 teams and hour-long races around the same street circuits as Formula E proper.

Identical cars? Where’s the fun in that?

The tag line ‘Driverless teams competing in a battle of algorithms’ hardly sounds like a thrill ride either. But although the cars will look the same, their software will be totally customisable – organisers hope to induce step-change innovation for autonomous motoring.

What will the cars look like?

No idea yet, but removing the driver does suggest intriguing flexibility, and Formula E has hired Tron: Legacy light cycle designer Daniel Simon to help create a suitably futuristic look.

Does anyone think this is a good idea?

Aguri Formula E team principal Mark Preston is an outspoken advocate, suggesting the tech could even work for F1’s safety car and in the pit lane. But it’s tricky to imagine cheering on a software program.

Read more from the April 2016 issue of CAR magazine