Roborace has revealed the first ever driverless racecar that can hit top speeds of 200mph and has four 300kW motors to push it around the track.
The Roborace announced the Robocar at the Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona this week. The new car, looking like something out of Tron, will be pitted against other autonomous vehicles in the company’s own all-electric, fully autonomous racing series – the aptly named Roborace.
The racing series itself will have a competitive element to it, naturally, but is mainly being considered a place for software engineers and hardware suppliers to test their technologies and programming in a safe, non-public environment. Once the testing has been trialled in the Roborace series, it’s expected that the companies will then move their technology in to public vehicles.
Where better to test new autonomous driving technologies than in high-speed, dangerous situations with numerous cars all packed together than on a race track with no fragile, squishy humans to bump in to.
There is a reason that the Robocar gives off a Tron-like vibe, and that’s because the designed of the car – Daniel Simon – actually worked on the Tron: Legacy movie. Robocar is powered by four 300kW motors, one for each wheel, and weighs just 976kg. The reason it is so light comes down to the lack of cabin and heavy technology designed to protect a human driver. This is also why the Robocar looks so flat – there’s no need for a person to view the road, all the sensors it will ever need are built in to the body of the car.
Hopefully this car will have more success in testing than one of the company’s testing vehicles, the DevBot, which crashed on a race track earlier in the month.
“Roborace will bring driverless electric technology to Formula E circuits in 2016/17 as well as one off events in global cities worldwide.”
Radar and lidar sensors in the front, back and sides of the car will continuously scan 360-degrees around the car for potential danger while a 360-degree camera in the rear ‘spike’ of the car giving a visual aspect to the data. There is also a front-facing camera that will provide even more detail to the computer system.
Although Roborace want to deploy the Robocar in this season of the Formula E, the Roborace Championship won’t be included in the Formula E until the next season where the Robocar is expected to take on competitors from around the globe.
It's likely that the company wants to gather valuable data from the Robocar that it can sell on to companies that are developing their own autonomous vehicles. This will mean that the Roborace and Robocar aren't just for fun, and will actually be a way to test practical methods of autonomous driving.