Roborace: The world’s first driverless championship. Wait, what?


It was known that motorsports is a brilliant platform to develop road cars – something probably only Ferrari and Mercedes would agree with their billion dollar endeavours in Formula One. On the side note, the crystal ball predicts the future of motoring lies in autonomous motoring. That said, it could require a motorsport in a form of driverless cars racing in neck-breaking speeds to accelerate the development of autonomous cars. With that, enter Roborace’.

No, this is not a B-grade movie title from the ’80s, instead it was created via a partnership between Formula E and Kinetik. This new championship will become a competitive platform for autonomous driving solutions, allowing tech companies and universities to create autonomous cars that will duke out to become the fastest autonomous car on the track and eventually be programmed to kill and enslave humanity in the years to come. Just kidding!

Roborace is set to become a support race for the ever growing Formula E championship, with the first race commencing during the 2016-2017 season. Ten teams with two cars will compete in one-hour races prior the main Formula E race in major cities across the world.

FE2015-travis (33)
Roborace. Imagine this, minus the drivers!

The unique part of  Skynet Roborace is, instead of raw horsepower and driver skills, computing and brain power will determine a race victory or retirement. Teams will compete using similar cars while allowing real-time computing algorithms and AI technologies to draw speed and performance. One of the teams will be a crowd-sourced community, allowing smart regular joes a chance to shame bigger manufacturers. Can you imagine your nerdy socially awkward classmate be crowned the champion? Yeah.

As exciting as it sounds, I as a motorsports enthusiasts who plies his trade in the IT industry, can’t help to think how ridiculous the races can be in the first few years. Among the possible scenarios include:

  • A car retired not because of an engine failure but due to its Windows Operating System. You know, the blue screen of death.
  • Crashes caused not because of driver error but because of bad coding.
  • Instead of racing drivers, programmers and nerds are celebrated. There’s even a programmer’s world championship in which the winner will obtain life supply of cloud data space or unlimited broadband.
  • An old abandoned race car was found by a young boy. His father, who used to be a Formula One driver, rebuilt and reprogrammed it before sending this to compete in Roborace 2030. Against all odds, that car defeated the fastest autonomous car and wins the title. A movie adaptation  starring Hugh Jackman’s son follows.

As crazy as it sounds, I’m looking forward to the first Roborace action next year!


Travis Chang

Travis Chang

While his day job is as exciting as a certain beige saloon, he knows a thing or two about cars and motorsports. The true definition of motoring nirvana according to him is a clear and twisty tarmac surrounded with mesmerizing vistas, followed with a track list of indie tunes on the stereo. Any cars will do fine, not so for big MPVs which he loathes...
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