It's Ugly, It's Bizzare and It's Just Not Cricket - Introducing the New Roborace Car...

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by Paul Jeffrey, Mar 1, 2017.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    Robocar by Roborace 2.jpg
    Well people sometimes call F1 drivers robots, now we don't need to anymore as the very first pilotless racing car has been revealed - Roborace takes one step closer to reality...

    Remember when we posted about the announcement of a driverless championship that was scheduled to support the all electric Formula E series back in November 2015? Well despite a resounding 94.2% of our votes suggesting we didn't really think that sort of thing had a future, it looks like the brains behind the new Roborace venture have pushed ahead and launched the very first driverless car, the Robocar.

    With driverless racing no doubt a very impressive piece of technology, it does on first glance appear that the new championship is ready to overtake Formula E as a series that no one really seems to care about... Nevertheless the team behind this new venture look set to come out all guns blazing when the cars take to the track for the very first "race" scheduled for later on this year.

    The Robocar was recently officially unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and the final design of the car is remarkably similar to it's initial concept images. The new car weighs in at just 975 kilograms minus driver (haha) and measures 4.8 metres long by two metres wide. Without the need to consider safety requirement restrictions that apply to other open and closed cockpit championships, the car does include some interesting styling features and benefits from a hugely aerodynamic design.

    Powered by four motors of 300kW each, plus a 540kW battery allows the car to reach an incredible 320km/h, or 200mph in old money. That's very impressive indeed.

    Robocar by Roborace.jpg

    Initially it was planned for a full racing series to take place at selected Formula E events during the current season, however it appears after extensive testing using the current 'devbot' LMP2 autonomous test mule the series have now decided to run a two car head to head race in 2017, as something of a technology test and soft launch for the series. It is unclear at this stage exactly which FE event this "race" will take place at, or indeed if the testing has been scheduled for a behind closed doors session out of season, with somewhere like Donington Park a prime candidate as the devbot has previously run a number of recognisance laps in recent months at the Leicestershire circuit.

    Regardless of if you like the idea behind driverless racing cars or not, it goes without saying that the technology packed into this new car is seriously impressive, something not lost on the niche but growing driverless passenger car market. Understandably the team behind the idea are rather proud of the achievements accomplished in such a short space of time, with the public launch of the car acting as something of a watershed moment for the project.

    'This is a huge moment for Roborace as we share the Robocar with the world and take another big step in advancing driverless electric technology.” Said Denis Sverdlov, Roborace CEO
    With it's film star looks and ground-breaking technology the team behind the new Robocar are calling it "the car of the future". That may well be true, but the big question is - is it a future anybody actually wants?

    Driverless cars may well have very real benefits for general everyday public use, but as a future to racing out on the track I, amongst many others I'm in doubt, really don't think this sort of thing has a place on the racing tarmac. Do you?

    Robocar by Roborace 4.jpg Robocar by Roborace 3.jpg

    You can catch up on the 'Inside Roborace' documentary series HERE.

    Do you think motorsport has a place for driverless racing cars? Would you watch a season of Roborace? What do you think of the car itself? Let us know in the comments section below!
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  2. Blimey


    Why would we need it? We already have RC competitions across the world.
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  3. TyXo


    Awesome idea. Can't wait for the series to start :)
    One more step towards evolution.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  4. Matheus Machado

    Matheus Machado
    Talking Door Racing

    Basically watching AI racing without a human stepping in the middle of them. If the top racing channels almost never show online this thing might attract people somehow.

    Anyway, impressive stuff from a technology standpoint. I would like to see some crazy machines that generate speeds above human controlled vehicles limitations in the future.
  5. TTupsi


    I'm sorry but I really don't understand why this has to be discussed. If a person or a company wants to build racing robots, why shouldn't they? There is absolutely no downsides to it. Don't like it, don't watch it or follow news. I personally don't like boxing or rap music but there's no way I'd be arguing whether they have their place in sports or music world.

    Roborace is not meant to be a spectator sport. It's a test platform for driverless cars and thus it absolutely has a place on racing tarmac. Especially when it doesn't take anything away from anyone who doesn't like the concept. I just don't understand what's there to discuss - why wouldn't driverless racing cars be allowed to even be developed when there is potential to make everyday traffic more safe? Shouldn't safer cars and traffic be an objective for us all?

    Also, I understand it's about your personal opinion @Paul Jeffrey but I'd much rather read actual articles about roborace than loaded "articles" whose only prupose is to downplay and question the existence of exciting new tech. :thumbsdown:
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  6. St3fan


    I seriously would love to see a driverless drifting series. Should be fun to watch.
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  7. Nick Hill

    Nick Hill

    From a purely technical perspective - fascinating.

    From an entertainment perspective - pass.
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  8. Blackmarch7


    All of motor racing until today has drivers/riders. I suppose driverless racing won't hurt us, even if it will be boring.
    Why people can't forgive it? pff, nallow mind...
  9. Ghoults


    I don't know. I have not seen a driverless car race. It could be fun or it could be pure hotlapping borefest. I'd expect the ai cars to be bad at overtaking while at the same time being very good at maximising their pace so typically I'd expect the fastest car to win from the pole while everybody else finishes in the same order as they started unless they have issue with the car. And with marbles any real overtaking attempts might look really strange. Or the ai could adapt really well and pull off some really nice moves. I doubt it though. What kills it is just 2 cars head to head.

    The main thing that could make the races exciting is how extreme you can make the cars and the tracks. As long as you can keep the spectators safe you can literally make any kind of track or start the cars millimeters from each other. And you don't really need track officials either. You could even throw out the rulebook and allow the cars really rub and lean on each other. Kinda like wwe with cars.... wait I don't like wwe either...
  10. ZethGAF


    Seems like this would be pretty expensive/risky. Nice PR for the orgs behind it but I'll be surprised if we see a full grid in the next 2 years.
  11. Thomas Hinss

    Thomas Hinss
    Aussie Commentator and Writer

    So to be clear here I personally am very traditional when it comes to motor racing, to me if humans aren't driving them then I don't see why motor racing should exist anymore. Kind of hard to have any sort of character and uniqueness between cars if they are all robots, would take the whole emotionless side of things to a completely new level.

    In saying that though, this was something that was always going to eventually happen. The world continues to become more automated in a lot of different areas as we try to mitigate the risks to ourselves by getting AI to instead take our place. I would imagine it would also be much cheaper for teams and companies as they don't have to worry about paying a driver however much money to race for them.

    It may be something I strongly disagree with but from a business and evolution standpoint it makes sense. Employment wise I can't see it helping either as it would mean a lot of drivers and their engineers would probably be out of a job, but if it means saving money then of course companies and teams are going to take this route.
  12. Alex72


    Its testing for the future. If AI can race without accidents then we have tech for traffic. Taxi's without drivers, systems in normal roadcars that take over if you are about to crash etc etc. So its a good idea. Let them have their fun as it will benefit technology progression. Will not watch it on a regular basis but reading reports about it and see it once in a while to know how they are improving will be interesting.
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  13. RC45


    What is the point?

    This is one machine versus another machine - why would humans bother watching? Other than gamblers betting on the outcome, exactly what is the attraction of one perfectly programmed machine pitted against another perfectly programmed machine?

    The machines do not care who sees them or if they win - there is no concept of pressure or risk as faced by living drivers or riders being felt by the machines.

    In fact, if they are programmed correctly then they will race to the point of competitive destruction - after all the machine has no need for any sense of self preservation which is what stops race car drivers from taking the ultimate risk.

    There is no sense of camaraderie or drama for the spectator, no race car driver to dream about or lust after or cheer for.

    This is yet another idiotic solution looking for a problem.

    Without promoters and sponsors the series will be nothing more than manufacturers challenging each other in a dark arena - why even bother to race in view of people or in daylight for that matter - the machines will not be showboating for an audience they will just be executing a series of instructions and sensors wont need light to function.
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  14. Eric Rowland

    Eric Rowland

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  15. Vangelis Parginos

    Vangelis Parginos
    GSRTeam Premium

    At the same point of view we can stop sim racing and let the AI do the racing for us and we can watch them.
    With out the human factor there is no point of racing, even at RC races humans control them.
    We can have it from today if we like to watch machines by assigning AI to race at our games, for me same thing.
    Its good for the technology aspect but nothing more. Maybe im narrow minded or maybe i just like humans to be more active in our world.
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  16. Andy 'Mars Bar' Graham

    Andy 'Mars Bar' Graham

    As I have said before, I think the driverless cars as a concept are completely stupid. Would I ever buy one in the future? Hell no.

    The car looks terrible, which is never a good start. Also I can only see this series being a processional race or a glorified demolition derby. Because the cars are programmed, the races will feel completely fake.

    Also I couldn't care which robot wins. None of the robots have any character or any sort of personality, so I have no reason to get behind anyone.

    Honestly, I could not see how this will even help driverless cars in the real world. It won't help them prepare to deal with Human drivers (and Motorsport could go do one if they try putting robots and humans on track at the same time).
  17. neuer31


    For you voted NO:

    Sofar we can't tell if its entertaining, but I agree to that, that at least in the beginning it could be not very entertaining.

    On the other hand, even if not many people would drive in the future AI driven cars, these technological advancements will be useful in nearly all AI departments. Better for space travel, better for AI medical procedures, better for emergency system in case of possible crashes, Air Travel helping systems, etc. etc.

    The same was for 4wd, ABS, TC, ESP, hybrid systems, Formula E, etc. etc. etc.
    And today they^re extremely useful and have saved thousands of lifes.
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  18. FishPapp


    It'd be cool if the AI could be ported into the sim world, maybe to prove itself before it's unleashed on real world circuits - it could make for some interesting offline racing especially if different bots had different aggression levels, abilities under braking etc.
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  19. pixeljetstream


    indeed, the poll question sounds a bit strange, one could interpret it either as "is technological progress a good idea?", or "do you think this will be entertaining to watch?"

    The way AI works today, is not like some hardcoded procedure as found in classic games, the car really has to learn the track, behavior of the car at limits and so on itself. It's not a giant manual coded behavior "if sensor.y > blah do that". It's all fuzzy, like our brain works, which is very exciting. And very interesting for civil use, you'd want autonomous cars to be able to master the vehicle at the limits. We have tarmac tracks now, I'd assume rally / rsx type in future etc.

    So from an engineering standpoint, which is a big portion of motorsports, it's strange to be against this. It's just more "nerdy" tech, than classic combustion engine... however it's still humans that make those machines. So there is still a big human factor here imo.

    Whether it will be interesting to watch, etc. is a different story, it could be turned into mario kart/speed racer "entertainment", or kept more serious. Imo this is just the beginning, which may look not as exciting, but there is a lot of possibilities in the distant future.
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  20. Queequeg


    That's really cool from a technolgical standpoint - really really cool. I think it's also more related to simracing than the article points out, with AI development for race cars traditionally applied only to racing sims in the past now being applied to real racing.

    I'd really like to see how good the team can make these real car AI, especially when it comes to racing with other cars. And if they are good, that technology could be transferred to simracing - awesome!

    On the other hand I don't see myself watching AI races on a regular basisafter the novelty wears off, but they are definitely another breakthrough for self driving passenger cars.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
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