The cars reached 116mph and successfully lapped the circuit – but then one crashed.
The organisers behind Roborace, the series that will see autonomous vehicles race head-to-head, used the recent Formula E race in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as an opportunity to give the cars a real-world test. It was the first time a pair of them actually raced together in public, but the experiment was mixed success.
For the special demonstration, the DevBot 1 and 2 prototypes had special liveries with inspiration from Argentina’s River Plate and Boca Juniors soccer teams. The cars managed to successfully navigate the circuit and even reached speeds as high as 116 miles per hour.
RoboRace’s video of the event suggests the DevBots never engaged in any wheel-to-wheel racing, and it only shows them a few several car lengths apart. Nevertheless, there was eventually trouble when DevBot 2 crashed into the wall in a corner and tore off its passenger side wheel.
As their name implies, the DevBots aren’t the final vehicles competing in RoboRace. They can pilot themselves, but there’s also a cockpit so that engineers can put a driver inside for monitoring how a human racer handles a course. The accident in Argentina suggests there's still work to be done...
Teams in the Roborace series will use a driverless vehicle called the Robocar for competition. Series CEO and designer Daniel Simon will debut the model at Mobile World Congress on February 27th in Barcelona, Spain. Simon showed a rendering (above) of car’s minimalist styling in 2016. An array of cameras, lidar, radar, and other sensors monitor 360 degrees around the vehicle. On-board computers processes the massive amount of data, and theoretically keep the car from crashing into the wall like DevBot 2.
Roborace will display its vehicles at some Formula E events throughout the year. Race fans will be able to check them out in Mexico City, Monaco, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, New York, and Montreal.