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Roborace ditches driverless car for first season

Roborace’s fully-fleshed-out DevBot 2.0 bears more than a passing resemblance to the current slate of Le Mans prototypes. It’s a good look.


Roborace

Even though Roborace’s self-driving race car made it all the way up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, it won’t be operating on algorithms alone when its first season kicks off.

Roborace has unveiled the car that will star in its inaugural season. You might notice one big difference between the car that’ll run in races and the car that was unveiled previously. Namely, there’s space for a driver now — that’s because Roborace’s first season will use manned vehicles instead of driverless ones.

Roborace’s original intention, and the goal it still strives toward in 2021, was to create a completely driverless race. The racing series would supply the vehicles and all the required hardware for autonomy, but it would be up to each team to create the algorithms and everything that actually made the cars run. That means each team would have cars performing differently, as opposed to a single spec of software that would probably lead to some boring races.

That first season, which should start this spring, will be interesting. According to Motorsport.com, Roborace’s “Season Alpha” will probably have a single digit’s worth of cars on the grid, but they won’t be exclusively under the control of humans, either — the race could be partly human-driven, with the rest left to artificial intelligence.

The car that will be used in “Season Alpha” is actually based on DevBot, the vehicle Roborace used to help develop and demonstrate its self-driving tech. DevBot 2.0 will be shaped similarly to a Le Mans prototype, and it’s capable of running under either human or computer control. Plans might have changed a bit, but Roborace is still insistent that it’ll be a series worth watching.


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