Roborace: The first autonomous car race

The first race between two fully autonomous cars took place a few days ago at the Monteblanco circuit in Spain.

Initiated in 2016, the Roborace project wants to create a championship of autonomous electric cars in which ten teams all having strictly identical cars will compete through the quality of their driving algorithms. After several years of development, the ”  Alpha Season ” of the Roborace was launched with the first race in real conditions opposing two prototypes DevBot 2.0.

This happened on the Monteblanco circuit in Spain, where the Arrival team’s autonomous car and the Technical University of Munich competed against each other. To recall, the DevBot 2.0 has five Lidar, two radars, eighteen sensors to ultrasound, six cameras and two sensors speed optics. The artificial intelligence (AI) that drives this racing car is driven by the open computing platform Drive PX2 Nvidia.

Exceedances under control

As much to warn you immediately, this first race is nothing exciting. The organizers preferred to ensure the success of the eight laps by setting rules that would make lax prevailing those prevailing in Formula 1. Exceedances were allowed only on a straight section of the circuit and only after the car ahead to be supplanted has given her consent. When the car in the second position was close enough to its predecessor in the “trigger zone”, it could then ask permission to overtake. Once in the straight line, the leading car moved aside to let her pursuer. Not really panting.

The DevBot 2.0 from the Technical University of Munich was in pole position but the arrival team car managed to get back on it to take the right to overtake it and win the race. Although it is still difficult to be passionate about this project in terms of performance, the technological feat is no less impressive. And the room for improvement suggests that Roborace could achieve his goals in a few years. But it will have to spice up the algorithms a little so that all this becomes a little more addictive.