The first race between fully autonomous cars is coming—and much soon than you think.
A championship called Roborace is being established and if all goes to plan will host its first race later this year.
Roborace will be an exhibition-style event supporting the Formula E Championship and hosting up to 10 teams, each with a pair of fully autonomous cars.
Teams will use identical cars, previewed today by the organizers in the form of a concept. The concept was penned by designer Daniel Simon who in the past has created some vehicles for Hollywood movies as well as liveries for various race cars.
“My goal was to create a vehicle that takes full advantage of the unusual opportunities of having no driver without ever compromising on beauty,” Simon said of the design. “Racing engineers and aerodynamicists have worked with me from the beginning to strike that balance—the Roborace is as much about competition as it is entertainment.”
Few details have been revealed by the organizers but it’s thought the cars will be built by a tech investment company called Kinetik. The cars will feature electric powertrains and be capable of speeds approaching 190 mph.
While the cars will be identical, teams will be free to develop custom software to control them. While the idea of racing being done by computers instead of humans sounds like a major downer—the “battle of algorithms” is one of the event’s taglines—it’s hoped the event will help accelerate the development of fully autonomous cars for public use.
The first Roborace event will take place during the 2016/17 Formula E season. This is the season that will see Jaguar enter the electric car racing series.
Note, we’ve previously seen autonomous car racing, albeit on a much smaller scale. Anki Drive featured tiny electric racers that were controlled by humans but had an artificial intelligence that could handle some maneuvers.