Roborace Electric Autonomous Car Completes First Public Run At Paris ePrix

6 months ago by 1

Roborace At Formula E ePrix In Paris

Roborace’s autonomous racing car ran for the first time in public ahead of Formula E’s Paris ePrix.

The Russian-backed initiative has partnered with Formula E to showcase the development of the first driverless racing car series.

At several races this season Roborace has run a test mule known as DevBot, which includes a cockpit so a human driver could aid the development, but it has brought the first version of its completely driverless car to an event for the first time.

The Robocar emerged on track shortly after the end of FP1, carrying out one lap at very slow speed. Its lap was punctuated by a short stationary spell parked up by the barriers.

Roborace chief technology officer Bryn Balcombe explained this was because “we were checking the accuracy of the line round Turn 8”.

He told “It got within a couple of millimetres of the barrier and that’s a bit too tight for the safety margin! We’re changing that line at the moment just to make sure it doesn’t get as close.

“The car is in its own sensing state, learning the environment. We had a vehicle following behind, but that’s just a safety mechanism.”

The car is due to run again after qualifying in similar fashion to this morning, and the intention is to run it without the need for a following vehicle.

Roborace was not present at the Monaco ePrix last week while it carried out its final software development ahead of Saturday’s demonstration in Paris.

It has been testing in private for three weeks, including on a purpose-built Formula E replica track that Balcombe says allows the team to “get the sensory perception correct and be training in the right environment”.

“We’ve done loads of testing in the background so it’s kind of strange, people come up and say ‘you’ve changed the world today’ and we feel like we did that a few weeks ago,” he added.

“It’s a big event and to show it in public is really important to us. We’ve still got a lot of work to do before this afternoon, but it’s great to be focusing on that and not the technical side. We’ve proven that now.”


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One response to "Roborace Electric Autonomous Car Completes First Public Run At Paris ePrix"

  1. Terawatt says:

    Lap time? How does it compare to the humans?

    Clearly from the text we understand it is way behind, but it would be interesting to see how the relationship (ratio) between the two develops, i.e. how quickly the robot is gaining on the humans.

    To my mind it is a bit surprising the robot is so far behind, given the huge simplification involved in driving a car around a track without traffic to worry about. Compared to a human, a robot should be able to judge where it is, what speed it is going, how many Gs it is pulling and in what direction, much more accurately than a human. It could even know a lot of stuff a human can’t sense directly, like the individual load and power being applied on each individual tyre. Coupled with a reaction time on the order of a million times faster than a human, and a time to execute decisions perhaps ten to a thousand times faster (depending on what it is – power can be adjusted very fast with electric drive, but the wheels probably can’t turn a thousand times faster with any realistic servo), and much greater execution accuracy than a human, it is easy to imagine a robot being utterly unbeatable around a race track…

    Instead, it is apparently so far behind that even a rookie driver would trash it. Why is that?!?

    I’m not sure if robot racing is going to be a popular spectator sport regardless how good the “pilots” become, but I am pretty sure few will want to tune in if races are as fast-paced as watching grass grow. 😀