Driverless 'Roborace' car makes street track debut
A new robot race car series is set to get underway in 2017.
The battery-powered prototype can reach speeds of 215 mph (350 kph), according to Roborace.
The “Roborace” series is scheduled to start in 2017 and will see 10 autonomous cars all competing on the same track.
The car successfully navigated the track at Formula E’s Marrakech ePrix in November. The all-electric race series will host robot races during ePrix weekends.
The car has been developed by a small team of engineers and computer scientists. “With this car we have several kinds of sensors,” Sergey Malygin, Roborace’s Artificial Intelligence developer, told CNN. “First of all there are lasers measurements — light-based, so we have information about the 3D objects around us.”
“Also we have cameras, radars, ultrasonics to get the information about other vehicles and base stations,” Malygin continues. “We also have precise positioning systems and optical speed sensors.”
“To get this information inside (the car), process it and get a valuable understanding of what is happening around us that’s something that needs a lot of computing power,” Malygin explains. The raw data is then deciphered by algorithms which tells the car where the walls are and where other cars are on the road.
Roborace engineer, Matas Simonavicius, says each wheel is individually powered, providing more stability and safety.
“One motor drives one wheel,” Simonavicius told CNN. “This way you can do torque vectoring — you can control the power to wheels much better, how it drives and the performance it gives out. It’s more advanced than the conventional stability control ABS.”
But are driverless cars a good idea?
“I think, yes,” Simonavicius says. “What’s the biggest cause of accidents at the moment? It’s human error.”
“That’s why we want to bring this car into a controlled environment where you cannot hurt any people and you can prove that it works,” Simonavicius argues.
“We’re trying to change people’s perspective of it. So they will see it at races and see it’s safe and does all these cool things.”