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.
Gallery: Roborace DevBot in Buenos Aires
ROBORACE BECOMES FIRST COMPANY IN DRIVERLESS HISTORY TO RACE TWO CARS SIMULTANEOUSLY IN FRONT OF A LIVE AUDIENCE
Buenos Aires, February 18th 2017
Roborace, the driverless, electric racing series, today completed a world first by performing the
first ever live demonstration of two driverless cars on the track at the same time. The
demonstration took place using Roborace’s development cars DevBot 1 and 2 on the city streets
of Buenos Aires.
This is the first time that two autonomous race cars have been on the same track at the same time
interacting with one another and it was only fitting that the feat took place in the Autonomous City
of Buenos Aires, host to Formula E’s third race of the season.
The two DevBots, in new liveries matching the iconic Argentine soccer teams, River Plate and
Boca Juniors, took to the track together driving entirely autonomously using the various sensors
and systems on board to navigate the street circuit whilst communicating with one another to
ensure they made the necessary calculations and adjustments to avoid any sort of contact with
“This is an historic moment for Roborace and for the future of autonomous vehicle development.
Seeing these two cars interacting at speed on a race track shows how fast the technology is
progressing and how important a platform Roborace is for further development. It is so exciting to
see these vehicles functioning without any human intervention, making their own decisions and
taking appropriate actions in order to guide themselves around the track.” Denis Sverdlov, CEO
“The basis of competition is interaction. The ability of the AI software to perceive and interact
within a dynamic environment is critical to Roborace. Today we demonstrated a major milestone in
this direction with full awareness between two vehicles combining world sensing, compute and
communication technologies.” Bryn Balcombe, CTO Roborace
“It is amazing how far Roborace has come since first showing the Devbot less than six months
ago and we can’t wait to see the Robocar in cities soon. Many people are working on autonomous
vehicle technology, but none have achieved the milestone of putting two cars on a race track
together. The development of driverless technology is a long road and it is great to see platforms
like Roborace pushing the boundaries and giving other progressive companies the opportunity to
get involved.” Alex Tai, CEO Virgin Racing Engineering
Roborace CEO Denis Sverdlov will be giving a keynote address and revealing the Robocar at
Mobile World Congress on February 27th in Barcelona alongside Robocar designer automotive
futurist Daniel Simon marking yet another major milestone for the competition.