If you’re tired of watching real, live people drive race cars, you won’t have to suffer much longer. Roborace revealed its Robocar autonomous racer today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. We’ve seen renderings of the wild, driverless race car before, but this is the first time it’s been shown in the sheetmetal.
The vehicle, with its cockpitless design, looks a lot like the computer-generated images we first saw last year. The Robocar was penned by Roborace chief designer Daniel Simon, who’s also responsible for the designs in the movies “Tron: Legacy” and “Oblivion.” That helps explain the Robocar’s futuristic look.
In addition to showing a real-life Robocar, Roborace also dropped some of its specs. The race car weighs roughly 2,150 pounds, which sounds light, but is about 600 pounds heavier than a Formula 1 car with the driver. The Robocar is 189 inches long and 79 inches wide, which makes it just a bit longer and wider than a Le Mans prototype. Powering the car are four 300-kW electric motors backed by a 540-kW battery. That setup will propel the race car to a top speed of just under 200 mph.
The brains behind all that capability is the Nvidia Drive PX 2 supercomputer, which has artificial intelligence capable of running 24 trillion operations a second. Serving as Robocar’s eyes and ears are five lidar and two radar arrays, 18 ultrasonic sensors, two optical speed sensors, six AI cameras, and a GNSS positioning system. All that tech gives the car 360-degree awareness, and gives the AI the data needed to make decisions.
Roborace will be a spec series in that all of the hardware is mandated. The software, however, will be left to the teams to develop. It’ll be up to the engineers to come up with the programming and algorithms that will take their car to the head of the pack.
Roborace will eventually serve as the support series for Formula E. It already ran a demonstration with two of its DevBot development cars earlier this year in Spain, and later in 2017 it will run two Robocars simultaneously on track. There’s still no word on when we’ll see some actual robot-to-robot competition, but count on it being sometime after the 2016/2017 Formula E season.