The world’s first self-driving robot racing series took a big step toward reality this weekend. For the first time ever, both of Roborace’s prototype autonomous racecars ran against each other on a track. Roborace — a self-driving racing series supported by Formula E that was announced in 2015 — plans to release a full video documenting the attempt on Friday. But we’ve got some exclusive footage of Saturday’s feat, which you can see above.
The two Roborace prototypes — which the company refers to as DevBots — “battled” each other around the same Puerto Madero street circuit in Buenos Aires that hosted the third race of Formula E’s third season. The cars’ Nvidia-powered brains handled 20 autonomous laps across the race weekend, according to Roborace, and topped out at about 115 miles per hour. That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment considering this was only the second time Roborace attempted a run on a Formula E street circuit. Formula E’s cars have a top speed of around 150 miles per hour.
But, as is the case with many autonomous car projects these days, the first two-car track test was a mixed bag of success and failure. One of the two DevBots successfully dodged a dog who wandered onto the track, while the other eventually smacked the wall in one of the turns — a “racing incident” that was the result of a “pushing the boundaries of AI,” according to Roborace.
Roborace has been trying to prove it can execute on the concept of autonomous racing ever since the 2015 announcement, but — as seen in the company’s behind the scenes YouTube series — progress has been slow. Roborace has apparently abandoned its original goal of racing a full field of 20 autonomous racecars at some point during the 2017 Formula E season. Instead, the focus has shifted to revealing (and eventually demonstrating) the final production racecar before the Formula E season ends this summer.