For those of us who grew up watching David Hunt, Niki Lauda, Jackie Steward, Stirling Moss (I went to school with his daughter Alison and met him many times), Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and latterly Michael Shumacher, Formula One seems far less exciting these days. But take out the driver altogether and surely it's just a step away from a giant Scalextric set? Can you program an AI to have balls and driving flair and a steely determination to win? Or will it just be who builds the most reliable and fastest car?
The Robocar is designed by Daniel Simon, the automotive futurist who creates vehicles for Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters including Tron Legacy and Oblivion, It weighs 1000kg and measures 4.8m long and 2m wide. It has 4 motors of 300kW each, a 540kW battery and is capable of speeds over 200mph. The car uses a number of technologies to ‘drive’ itself including 5 lidars, 2 radars, 18 ultrasonic sensors, 2 optical speed sensors, 6 AI cameras, GNSS positioning and is powered by Nvidia’s Drive PX2 brain, capable of up to 24 trillion A.I. operations per second to be programmed by teams’ software engineers using complex algorithms.
At the car’s unveiling in Barcelona last year, Chief Design Officer Daniel Simon said “This needs to be the superhero of self-driving cars. An ambassador for this amazing rise of artificial intelligence.”
Roborace’s open A.I. platform allows companies to develop their own driverless software and push the limits in an extreme and safe environment. The series is designed to be a competition of intelligence so all teams will use the same “Robocar” to ensure all efforts will be focussed on advancing the software for everyday road cars to adopt.