The Roborace’s Self-Driving Race Car Is Every Kind of Absurd
If Formula One cars resemble those crazy birds-of-paradise, subject to the whims of evolution, the Roborace car looks like a fish you’d find waddling around a cave—built to fit a world that has little in common with the one humans know.
The global motorsports series, created by UK VC fund Kinetik, is set to launch next year as part of Formula E, the all-electric racing series now in its second season. Roborace, which just unveiled the design for its race cars, is meant to promote autonomous driving and offer software developers a high-profile, competitive venue for honing their work.
The teams will share hardware—everyone gets the same car—but develop their own software. After all, that’s the stuff that matters when it comes to navigating a crowded track at speeds nearing 200 mph.
The car is the work of Daniel Simon, a designer who started a conventional career at Volkswagen’s empire, working for Audi, Bentley, and Bugatti. He’s spent the past decade doing his own thing, styling liveries for Formula One cars and working as a consultant folks for like Disney. If you’ve seen his work, it’s likely in a movie theater: Simon created vehicles for films like Prometheus, Captain America, and Tron Legacy.
It’s a fitting CV for a job that involves self-driving race cars. Automakers have started to address the idea of how taking the wheel from humans might change how cars are built, but this takes the extra step of taking the human out of the picture altogether. It’s a very cool-looking future.
Don’t care about human racing, let alone what happens when robots swarm the circuit? There’s good news for you, too. Teaching these cars how to race could help advance the systems consumers will one day use.
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