Skip to main content

Roborace sets a new record for world’s fastest driverless car

Most development work on self-driving cars focuses on mundane things like getting around parked cars and keeping bugs off sensors, but what about speed? Roborace is trying to develop a racing series for autonomous cars, and has set a Guinness World Record for the world’s fastest self-driving car at 175.49 mph.

Roborace’s autonomous race car, dubbed Robocar, made its record runs at Elvington Airfield in the United Kingdom, with Guinness adjudicators on hand. The attempt was made in March, but an official announcement was postponed to coincide with the publication of Guinness’ 2020 record book. Because there was no existing self-driving car top speed record to aim for, Guinness set 160 mph as the unofficial record the Robocar needed to beat. As is standard procedure for top-speed records, officials took the average of runs in opposite directions to come up with the final number.

That 175-mph record speed isn’t that crazy, though. Roborace previously said the Robocar could hit 198 mph, so the car may not have achieved its full potential. The self-driving car’s top speed also seems pedestrian considering that the Bugatti Chiron just hit 304 mph, setting a top-speed record for production cars. But Roborace is unrivaled in the world of autonomous cars.

While Audi has taught some prototype self-driving cars to lap racetracks, speed generally isn’t a priority for developers. Most companies working on self-driving cars plan to use them in ridesharing and delivery services on crowded city streets. In these conditions, a high top speed is unrealistic and, without a human driver to enjoy it, irrelevant. But just as supercars can’t be fully unleashed on public roads, it’s still cool to know that a self-driving car can go so fast.

Unveiled in 2017, the Robocar is powered by four electric motors, producing a combined 402 horsepower. The missile-shaped car doesn’t have room for a driver, taking the human element out of racing. Roborace has conducted numerous demonstration runs, but it’s unclear when we’ll see a fleet of Robocars going wheel to wheel in an actual race. Roborace has said the first season of its race series will feature cars driven by humans at least part of the time.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Watch folks react to their first ride in GM Cruise’s driverless car
Two people taking their first ride in an autonomous car.

General Motors autonomous car unit, Cruise, has started to offer driverless rides to residents of San Francisco as it moves toward the launch of a full-fledged robo-taxi service.

Following a test run of the service last week, Cruise has released a video (below) showing the reaction of the very first passengers as they rode through the streets of the Californian city in a vehicle that had nobody behind the wheel.

Read more
We now know what the self-driving Apple Car might look like
A render that shows what the Apple Car might look like.

Thanks to several 3D concept renders, we now know what the future self-driving Apple Car might look like.

Vanarama, a British car-leasing company, took inspiration from other Apple products, as well as Apple patents, in order to accurately picture the rumored Apple car.

Read more
Waymo’s self-driving cars can’t get enough of one dead-end street

Waymo has been testing its self-driving cars in San Francisco for the last decade. But an apparent change to the vehicles’ routing has caused many of them to make a beeline for a dead-end street in a quiet part of the city, causing residents there to wonder what on earth is going on.

At CBS news crew recently visited the site -- 15th Avenue north of Lake Street in Richmond -- to see if it could work out why so many of Waymo’s autonomous cars are showing up, turning around, and then driving right out again.

Read more