With no driver behind the wheel, this self-driving race car maxed out at 124 mph.
While Tesla is gearing up to introduce the world to consumer-ready fully autonomous cars for the road, Roborace has been busy carving out its own niche with the development of the world’s first self-driving race car. After showing off a wacky prototype concept called the DevBot last year, a near-final production model known as the Robocar was unveiled in Barcelona earlier this year. You may also remember it appearing on Top Gear – the image of Matt LeBlanc mounting it pretending to be a jockey is hard to erase from your memory.
After a year of development, the DevBot was shown off at the German Formula E championship a few weeks ago, where it performed its first full-speed self-driven lap around the Berlin Street Circuit. Using its four 300-KW electric motors, the DevBot maxed out at 124 mph with no driver behind the wheel, but the final car is expected to exceed 200 mph.
The self-driving race car is the work of Daniel Simon, a former Bugatti and Volkswagen concept designer who also designed the futuristic vehicles in Tron Legacy. His vision is to create an autonomous racing league that takes place before regular Formula E races featuring 10 teams using two driverless cars. From the cockpit view, seeing the car accelerate, brake and steer by itself is unsettling. It's an impressive feat, but it still can’t match the pace of a human-driven race car. Corner entry speeds seem slow, and it frequently misses the racing line. The technology is in place, but it’s going to be a long time before autonomous race cars can make Formula One obsolete.