Fully autonomous vehicles roaming public roadways are still many years away but if racing organizer Formula E has its way, you’ll be able to watch self-driving cars compete against each other on the track next season.
Formula E, which hosted its first all-electric championship series last year, is partnering with Kinetik on the initiative. Dubbed Roborace, the series will feature 10 teams (with two cars each) competing in hour-long races held before scheduled Formula E events.
Each of the 20 self-driving cars will be identical, forcing teams to focus their efforts of developing the artificial intelligence and algorithms to guide their cars during the race. Curiously enough, Formula E said that one team will be a crowd-sourced community team led by enthusiastic software and technology experts.
Denis Sverdlov, Kinetik founder, said they passionately believe that, in the future, all of the world’s vehicles will be assisted by AI and powered by electricity, thus improving the environment and road safety.
While not much has been revealed about the actual cars that’ll be used, a spokesperson for Kinetik said they’ll have a top speed of around 186 mph. As The Verge points out, that would make them faster than the human-driven Formula E cars that top out at around 140 mph. In fact, Roborace vehicles would be the fastest autonomous vehicles in the world, besting Audi’s 560 horsepower driverless RS 7 which managed to hit 149 mph last year.
Image courtesy James Temperton, Wired