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Roborace Unveils Autonomous Car to Take Humans Out of Racing

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【Summary】Roborace, a British-based company that’s eyeing a self-driving racing series, unveiled its driverless racecar.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 09, 2017 12:45 PM PT
Roborace Unveils Autonomous Car to Take Humans Out of Racing

Motorsport racing, regardless of whether it's Formula One, Formula E, IndyCar, rallying, or endurance racing, the basic formula remains the same. There are one or more drivers that actually race the vehicle, a team of engineers that work on the vehicle, and even more engineers at the factory working on the next-gen of the racecar.  

Roborace, the autonomous racing series, has different plans. As its name implies, Roborace wants to take the driver out of the equation by having self-driving racecars compete with one another. After a few years of testing and development, the company has finally revealed its autonomous, fully electric racecar. 

The driverless machine is imposing and even more aggressive than some of the vehicles that rely on humans to steer the vehicles. And that has been done on purpose. Taking the driver out of the vehicle allowed Roborace to create a modern design that mimics those found in futuristic movies. 

"We want people to see this like a Tron, or an Oblivion, or a Star Wars spaceship," said Justin Cooke, chief marketing officer of Roborace. It's safe to say that the company has achieved its goal. And that comes down to car designer Daniel Simon who has created other gorgeous vehicles for Bugatti, Bentley, Audi, and VW. Unsurprisingly, Simon has also penned some cars for movies like Tron: Legacy

While I could ramble on about the looks of the racecar, there are other details that make Roborace's autonomous racer special. 

More Than A Pretty Face

Just like many other self-driving cars of the future, Robocar runs purely on electricity. The vehicle, as Engadget reports, features four 300kW motors inside of its high-tech carbon-fiber chassis. A 540kW battery powers the electric engines and when all is said and done, the Robocar can hit a top speed of 199 mph. Fortune reports that company is using electric motors and Charge, an electric truck company from Britain. 

The car's performance is impressive, but so is its lengthy list of tech. The racecar boasts enough sensors and cameras to make Tesla a little jealous. As Engadget points out, Robocar is fitted with five LIDAR detectors, two radar systems, 18 ultrasonic sensors, two optical speed sensors, along with six AI-driven cameras. Clearly, Roborace isn't messing around. 

The most impressive thing about Roborace's car, though, is its brain. As Fortune points out, the car's brain is powered by Nvidia's Drive PX 2 supercomputer, which gives the racecar the ability to make 24 trillion AI operations per second. The outlet reports that Nvidia's Drive PX 2 utilizes deep learning for 360-degree situation awareness to assess what's around the vehicle and determine a safe, quick path to its destination. 

Engineers, Developers Come First

If you're questioning the validity of Roborace's car being able to drive itself around a track, this thing is the real deal. The company was spotted testing a prototype last year and Fortune claims that the software engineers will develop the algorithm for the artificial intelligence for each race. The company will even provide an open AI platform to allow other companies to develop their own driverless software. 

Similar to Formula E, all of the vehicles in the self-driving racing series will be identical with the software being the deciding factor. By making engineers and software developers the stars of the racing series, Roborace will not only help bring some more attention to self-driving cars, but it could also help companies test tech in extreme conditions.  

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