Blame it on the motherboard.
Driverless cars are fast becoming a reality, with vehicles such as the Tesla Model S and Volvo XC90 showing the world that we can slowly start to relinquish the duty of driving to computers. This is surely an exciting thought, but as the IIHS and countless others have warned, self-driving tech just isn't ready for real-world applications just yet. But what about the racetrack? Over three years ago, the Robocar was revealed to the world as the first fully autonomous race car and has since won over fans by successfully competing in the famous Goodwood Hillclimb, but an incident earlier this year has proven that the self-driving racer still has a long way to go before it can become seriously competitive. Now a Roborace engineer explains what went wrong.
Last month, the first-ever live broadcast of the Roboracer got off to a bad start when one of the cars shamefully crashed into the pit wall at Thruxton Racetrack in the UK. The car represented the Acronis SIT Autonomous team from Switzerland. At the end of the three-lap race only two of the six teams made it out alive, but what exactly went wrong with the Acronis SIT car? An engineer for the team recently took to Reddit to explain the crash which he describes as a command failure.
"When our car was given permission to drive, the acceleration command went as normal but the steering was locked to the right," said the engineer. "We are looking at the log values and can see that our controller was trying to steer the car back to the left, but the car did not execute the steering command due to a steering lock. The desired trajectory was also good; the car definitely did not plan to go into the wall."
According to the engineer, this was an extremely rare event and blames it on "a short spike in the inputs to the controller. The SIT team attempted to make repairs to the race car, but it had to be sent back to the factory for more comprehensive work. Race cars will always have teething problems it seems.