AI isn't quite ready to replace humans in motorsports just yet.
Over three years ago, the Robocar was revealed as the world's first fully autonomous race car in Barcelona. Since then, driverless racing has gained traction, with this driverless racer even completing the famous Goodwood Hillclimb on its own.
Now, the first-ever live broadcast of Roborace has taken place, but the driverless-vehicle race series didn't get off to a good start. In fact, one of the cars barely started the race at all before crashing into a pit-lane wall.
The low-speed crash is about as anti-climactic as you can imagine and serves as a reminder that driverless race cars still have some way to go.
The car in question represented the Acronis SIT Autonomous team from Switzerland, who couldn't have been thrilled by the instant end to their race ambitions for the Season Beta Event 1.1, with this particular incident occurring in Round 1. The cause for the crash wasn't immediately clear. The event was staged at the Thruxton Racetrack in the UK, with a total of six teams participating, while the car used for Season Beta is called DevBot 2.0, an all-electric and fully autonomous vehicle that can be driven via a human or artificial intelligence.
In Roborace's promotional video for the event, it's suggested that Season Beta would "either be a glimpse into the future or a spectacular failure." That's an unfortunate choice of wording considering what unfolded.
While all the other teams had a decent go of it, only two of the six teams actually managed to complete the three-lap race. It's hardly a confidence-booster for self-driving technologies in general, with the IIHS already warning that these vehicles aren't as safe as believed.
That hasn't stopped Elon Musk from repeatedly stating that self-driving Teslas are imminent, but incidents of self-driving vehicles like the Volvo XC90 that struck a pedestrian indicate that we could still be some way off from making the tech safe. For Roborace, at least nobody was hurt in the crash (well, besides the ego of the team behind the computer screens), but here's hoping for a more successful race next time around.