World's first driverless electric race vehicle is finally here

The Robocar is the world's first ever autonomous race vehicle.

The auto was designed by Daniel Simon, best known for his sci-fi work on Star Wars and Tron. Here, he puts his imagination genius to the real-world pavement. Today we get our first look at The Robocar Driverless Race Car. Powered by four motors and a single battery, it will be capable of speeds over 320 KPH (200 MPH). But while both firms will be hoping to take the "car of the future" title, that seemingly belongs to this beast of a vehicle from Roborace.

According to the company, the vehicle will be used at a self-driving racing championship that will take place before the Formula E Mexico City ePrix later this season. The vehicle's sense of direction is made possible by variety of impressive technology, including five lidar and two radar arrays, six artificial intelligence cameras and 18 ultrasonic sensors.

Known as the Robocar, each race team will use the exact same machine to compete, though teams will be able to write the software algorithms that tells the vehicle how to drive. "It's a great feeling to set this free".

It uses deep learning for 360-degree situational awareness around the vehicle, to determine precisely where the auto is, and to compute a safe and efficient trajectory.

The "brain" of the Robocar is the Nvidia Drive PX2, which uses AI to tackle the complexities of autonomous driving. I'm guessing there are a lot of lidar units because they are the newer, lower-profile, smaller-field-of-view versions; the big spinning roof units wouldn't work well on a high-speed, battery-powered race auto.

In their last outing, the cars were put on display on a custom-built city street track at Formula E's ePrix in Buenos Aires.

The role of motorsports in advancing road technology and improving public perception is becoming more vital than ever as we approach the era of driverless cars.

Vanessa Coleman

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