The Rush To Autonomous Cars May Have Just Crossed The Line


There are some things that just require a human touch.

Competition is fun because it involves two conscious animals (usually humans) that must use their physical and mental capabilities to defeat the other in a duel. This primal nature is no different for race car drivers, but that may soon be ending. Recently, a new type of race has been proposed by FIA, the governing board that regulates automobile racing. The race will be unlike F1 races and rally cross competitions that they usually put on for the simple fact that there will be no drivers.

Instead, the competitors will be software engineers and their sport will be to use knowledge and typing ability to make their team’s autonomous racing car beat other self-guided cars. Now battling robots is a pretty cool concept, but even competitions like battling robots rely on human operators to put their keen instincts as well as their fallibility out in the open to make it interesting. A battle between self-driving cars is not heated in the same sense because these types of races have more in common with Rube Goldberg tournament than with a white knuckle-inducing F1 race. The overall aim of the competition is to advance self-driving technology through racing matches, which is fine.

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The problem lies in the fact that FIA thinks that people would be willing to watch these competitions in the same way they watch regular races. This is an idea that we fear is doomed to fail.

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