Roborace wants the future of racing to be AI plus humans, working together

Errolson Hugh

A quick look through the Cars Technica back catalog (the carchive, perhaps?) shows that autonomous driving technology and racing technology are both topics we return to quite often. But it has been a while since we covered their intersection—specifically, what's been going on at Roborace. The series first broke cover at the end of 2015 and then wowed everybody with the Robocar a few months later. It looks outrageous, made possible because it does not need to protect a human driver or generate meaningful downforce, two factors that overwhelmingly influence most race car designs.

Initially, the idea was for a driverless support series for Formula E. Roborace would supply teams with identical Robocars, and the teams would try to program a better racing AI. However, it's fair to say that the idea of watching a grid full of AI cars race each other did not meet with universal approval. "We realized that humans are very much part of the storyline of autonomous driving technology. The machines need to learn from humans. What’s it like to take a ride in one as a passenger? These cars have to learn how to fit into a human world. Human and AI cars will share the road," said Rod Chong, Roborace's deputy CEO.

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