The folks over at Roborace have taken one of the biggest steps yet toward making their fantastic-looking self-driving racecars a reality. The company just published footage of the Roborace test car, known as DevBot, completing 12 laps on its own — with no human onboard — at last weekend’s Formula E race in Morocco. You can watch the video above.
The test car safely navigated the tight, twisting street circuit without any major incidents, according to Roborace. The video shows the car entering the track on its own, performing a warm-up lap, taking 10 laps at speed, and then performing an exit lap, all while the various team members watch with bated breath. Roborace’s organizers also say that DevBot increased its speed with each lap as it learned more about the track, though they haven’t said exactly how fast the car went, or what sort of lap times were recorded.
It’s not the most impressive autonomous feat, but it’s an encouraging sign
The footage of DevBot’s feat was published in the third episode of Roborace’s ongoing behind-the-scenes YouTube series, which the company has been using to chronicle the process of getting the self-driving racing series off the ground. It’s certainly not the most impressive accomplishment for a self-driving racecar — Audi got an autonomous RS7 to lay down a particularly hair-raising lap at Hockenheim in 2014, for instance. But it’s definitely an encouraging sign.
The original goal of Roborace was to have 20 of those wild production cars (created by Tron light cycle designer Daniel Simon) race against each other on the street circuits of Formula E sometime during the all-electric series’ 2016–2017 season, which is currently underway. Roborace seems to have readjusted that ambitious goal, though, now saying that it just hopes to perform more demos throughout the season.
What exactly those demos will hold is anybody’s guess. Roborace hasn’t yet said if they have any companies or teams committed to the series. All we know for sure is that there are two of these test cars, and that at least one of them can make it around a proper track in one piece.