Formula E will be featuring autonomous car racing, it has recently been announced by representatives of the electric vehicle competition.
The FIA Formula E Championship, which was masterminded in 2012, and was eventually launched on September 13, 2014 in Beijing, had so far involved 10 teams, each consisting of 2 members.
Now however the novelty will be that cars will vie against each other even without having to be driven by actual pilots, starting from the 2016 season.
These competitions, known as Roboraces, will occur before the traditional electric vehicle championship, and are being planned in partnership with Kinetik, an investment firm which focuses on innovative business ventures, such as car making, renewable energy sources, and ambient intelligence.
The same routes will have to be crossed, during 1-hour races, and these street circuits will be temporarily set up in several city centers across the world.
During these contests, unfolding across an entire motorsport season, driverless cars representing prestigious academic institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University Stanford University will be striving for supremacy against other such automobiles designed by tech companies and major car makers, such as Audi’s brand new Robby sedan.
In addition, there will also be a team sponsored through a crowdfunding campaign, in order to ensure that regular car aficionados can also take part in the Roboraces.
So as not to face any sort of disadvantages in comparison with more well-established rivals, these outsiders will benefit from identical electrical cars (as provided by Kinetik), and will have to focus on developing the best artificial intelligence for these vehicles.
Despite the fact that the competition sounds extremely futuristic and ground-breaking, in fact such races have taken place before, albeit with different stakes and probably with less adrenaline.
For instance, the Challenge spearheaded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) also involved autonomous vehicles, but the aim wasn’t necessarily that of being the first at the finish line, but rather to complete the entire circuit, without experiencing any technical setbacks.
Moreover, the routes were much more remote and untraveled, being set in the Nevada or California desert, or in other areas, far away from urban thoroughfares.
Therefore, this new competition seems to take advantage of recent advances in the robotic automobile industry, by fully harnessing the potential of these inventions, while driving at “crazy speeds”, as promised by Denis Sverdlov, Kinetik’s founder and CEO.
The accent has shifted from simply finishing a race, to actually setting the best time, and surpassing all the other competitors, when it comes to performance and velocity.
While organizers aren’t overly optimistic regarding the popularity of the upcoming Motoraces, considering them to be directed exclusively towards a few driverless car enthusiasts, they still wish to organize such an event, although chances are slim that it will ever benefit from mass appeal in the early stages.
However, eventually, as artificial intelligence becomes more potent and autonomous vehicles become more dependable and widely accepted, Roboraces may even outshine Formula One Grand Prix events.
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