It's almost been a year since we first learned about Roborace, the autonomous racing series that will run alongside Formula E next season. Since then, though, the series has been pretty tight-lipped, offering up some tantalizing renders of the cars but little in the way of information about when or how the series will run. Today we know a tiny bit more, because the series posted a video of an actual car using actual wheels and no actual human driving — very briefly — around a racetrack.
"DevBot," as Roborace calls it, is the test car that the series is using to shore up the basic software and hardware that each team will start with when the racing begins sometime during the 2016–2017 Formula E season. Roborace says the vehicle is "entirely custom made," aside from its cabin. That means it's probably rocking the Nvidia Drive PX2 supercomputer as well as all the other autonomous tech that the series unveiled earlier this month.
Finally some proof
In the video we see a driver pull the car down the straightaway of what appears to be England's Silverstone Circuit, hop out, and let the car take off on its own. Despite all the fancy editing, it appears that the car only gets up to a fraction of the top speed of 180 miles per hour that Roborace has boasted about in the past.
It sounds like we could know more soon. Roborace's DevBot will make its public debut on August 24th, at the Formula E open practice sessions at Donington Park. Roborace also says that various tech, auto, motorsport, and university groups will be given time with the DevBot over the next six months. Races are supposed to start sometime next year, and it appears they'll be happening right alongside Formula E events.
The details are still vague, but with the series keeping such a tight control on the information about what's in store, we'll take every little scrap we can get. That Roborace is finally putting wheels to pavement is a very good sign, and it's the first tangible proof that the (extremely nerdy) series is coming together.
Update August 22nd, 8:18PM ET: This story has been updated with new information on the DevBot and Roborace's plans.