04.03.17 - Roborace Car

From the Backyard to the Racetrack

Have you ever owned a remote controlled car? If so, did you get the chance to race your car against your siblings, friends or neighbors? You might have made some fun memories of racing in the backyard when you were a kid with your remote controlled car and your parents may have even carved out a track for you if there was enough room. Take these memories of racing out back and increase it 100-fold and you’ll have what’s becoming a new idea in the world of racing that just might take over in the future.

There’s no doubt that we’re heading to a world where we’re no longer needed behind the steering wheel on public roads. With the large variety of cars on the road that reality may still be a few years off, but the one area that a racing series can control and where this technology can shine is at the track. A race track is a controlled environment where the rules are stricter, there aren’t as many obstacles and it can be much easier to make the autonomous technology work and perform for you. This is where the FIA is planning to see how we’ll react to driverless racing.

Dubbed Roborace, the new series is expected to be fielded by five teams, each with two cars in the race to give us a field of ten. These races will take place as part of the support from the Formula E series that has gained a ton of popularity. In order to pull this off and make Roborace a reality, a special car that has the looks and the feel we want needs to be built and it seems like the FIA have found their man to handle the job and create the right car for this race.

With a blank slate and the crazy imagination the FIA turned to Daniel Simon who is known for being the man to create many of the vehicles we saw on the silver screen in Tron: Legacy. The car he came up with certainly would have fit into that movie and the face he didn’t have to design a cockpit meant he was free to go nuts and give us a car that looks like something that jumped off the screen of a video game rather than something that’s part of the real life driving that can be done.

Now that we have the car, what are some of the specs and how can the races actually be competitive? The Roborace cars weight 2149 pounds and have four 300-kW electric motors in them. These cars are made to be able to reach 199 mph and will use the cameras and sensors needed to make their way around the track. While the cars will be mechanically identical, the competition will be in the software that’s developed. Each team will be able to create their own software and program it into their cars to create the area of competition that can be gained over another racer.

Instead of a driver that has to make adjustments, these teams will make adjustments in their programming to come up with the answer to get them to the finish line first. This is certainly the ultimate in technology driven racing and a series that could catch on in the future. The Roborace cars have started to make their debuts and showed up in Buenos Aires recently. Unfortunately one of the two cars crashed during this debut, but that’s not going to break the spirit of any of the creators or participants of this new driverless series of racing that could be the ultimate in remote controlled car racing for the future.

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