Roborace - Autonomous Racing Series
Roborace planned to be the first autonomous racing series in history. The racing cars were controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) and did not require drivers. Originally announced as a global support series for Formula E, Roborace later becamean independent racing series. The concept was backed by the British company Kinetik.
Roborace's focus was on autonomous driving, which will play an important role in the automotive industry in the coming years. Like in Formula E, electric motors were used to power the cars. All vehicles had identical hardware and were equipped with a basic software already developed by Kinetik, on which the teams built and developed their own AI.
The competition was solely created by computer-based real-time algorithms and the resulting artificial intelligence. The human stars behind Roborace were supposed to not be racing drivers, but developers. However, due to unknown reasons most likely thought to be the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the project was abandoned in late 2021.
Look of the Roborace car
The visual concept of the race cars came from the pen of Daniel Simon, the chief concept designer of Roborace. Simon, born in Stralsund, Germany in 1975, was responsible for the futuristic vehicles in Hollywood blockbusters such as "Tron: Legacy" and "Oblivion". The vehicle had considerable downforce. At the same time, the developers dispensed with additional air guide plates that would have affected the look of the racing machine. The sensors needed for autonomous driving were inconspicuously integrated into the bodywork.
Roborace competed in its first (test) seasons with a development vehicle, the so-called DevBot 2.0. The car is based on an LMP3 racer from Ginetta and can also be driven by a human pilot.
Thanks to their electric motors, Roborace cars were expected to accelerate very quickly and achieve high top speeds of over 300 kph.
The race format of Roborace was still in a testing phase before the project was abandoned. The racing series experimented with Augmented Reality (AR), the so-called Metaverse. Here, virtual obstacles were dynamically generated on the track, which the vehicle had to avoid. If it was unsuccessful in doing so, the team received a time penalty.
On the other hand, there were also objects that were supposed to be be intentionally run over by the vehicles ("collected"). For this, the vehicle took a small detour or a different line, resulting in a time loss on the stopwatch. However, the teams received a time credit for each of these "collectables". Whether it was worth incurring a time loss for this bonus time was solely up to the decision-making power of the AI.
The AI software developed by the teams was uploaded into the vehicle before the race. During the race, the teams had no access to the vehicle, vehicle data, or their AI.
Six teams registered for the "Season Beta" test phase at Roborace.
- Acronis SIT Autonomous
- Arrival Racing
- Autonomous Racing Graz
- Carnegie-Mellon University
- MIT Driverless
- Universita de Pisa