The first public demonstration of two autonomous cars driving together on a racetrack ended in a crash.
As part of the development program for its autonomous-car race series, Roborace brought two prototype cars to this weekend’s Formula E race in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Roborace claims it is the first to race two self-driving cars together in front of a live audience. But it wasn’t much of a race.
One of the two prototype cars crashed and failed to complete the run. It carried too much speed into a corner and clipped a barrier, Roborace’s chief marketing officer, Justin Cooke, told the BBC. The cars didn’t crash into each other, though, and Roborace was quick to note that this demonstrates that self-driving cars are capable of interacting with each other in a race-type situation, an important proof-of-concept moment.
The second car managed to complete the demonstration run without incident, even avoiding a dog that ran onto the track, according to the BBC. It achieved a top speed of 116 mph. Roborace hopes to eventually recruit 10 teams to race cars based around similar technology in a full robotic race series. Like the Buenos Aires demonstration run, the races will be run in concert with Formula E, acting as a sort of warmup for that series’ electric-car races.
Both cars used in the demonstration were versions of the “DevBot” prototype that Roborace unveiled last year. Each car featured similar hardware and software to what will eventually be used on the real autonomous race cars, which Roborace has tested at venues like the famous Silverstone circuit in England. The DevBots also have room for a human driver, something the final designs will not have.
Roborace CEO Denis Sverdlov is expected to reveal more details about the company’s plans during a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, next week. Roborace will also bring its prototype cars to the next Formula E race, slated for Mexico City on April 1.
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