It’s called the Robocar. Built by Roborace, it became the first ever race car in the history of the Goodwood Festival of Speed to have completed the traditional Hillclimb without a driver in it.
The electric race car utilised a variety of sensors located around the vehicle to give it 360-degree “vision”. The information gathered from the sensors provide the Robocar with the ability to localise its position and detect drivable surfaces and objects using deep neural networks.
Its speed was limited to 120 km/h – allowing visitors to have a clearer look of the car as it made its way up the Hill but honestly, the whole idea and concept of a driverless race (should there ever be one) just sounds weird.
“It is an enormous achievement for a race car to complete the very first run of the hill using only artificial intelligence,” said Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Duke of Richmond and Founder of the Festival of Speed.
Sure that’s rather impressive but really, what’s its purpose? To eliminate the need for drivers with the most outlandishly reckless drivers?
It’s hard to imagine Formula 1 being this “sterile” as part of what makes motorsport interesting are the drivers and their individual driving styles and behaviour, both on and off track.
Imagine what the pinnacle of motorsports would be like if it were to lose the arrogant confidence of Lewis Hamilton, the outlandish maneuvers of Daniel Ricciardo and of course, the blatantly crude and short replies of Kimi Raikkonen.
Where’s the fun in that? Sure, lap times tumble and accidents reduced without the likes of Max Verstappen around but who wants to see such a clean and calamity-free race?
A future where driverless race cars are controlled by computers and monitored indoors through multiple screens – is not one I’d like to live in.
Robocar is the world’s first autonomous race car and is the creation of those behind Hollywood films like Oblivion and Tron: Legacy. It weighs 1,350 kg and is powered by four 135 kW (184 hp) electric motors used to drive each wheel, for a combined output in excess of 500 hp.