Robot racing series Roborace finally pulled the wraps off its first real self-driving racecar. The British company behind the series showed off the “Robocar” for the first time ever in public during a press conference at Mobile World Congress today.
The cars of Roborace — the early design of which was revealed one year ago — were designed by Daniel Simon, the man behind the light cycles in Tron: Legacy. “I’ve worked on a lot of cool stuff — Tron, Bugatti, Star Wars — but this takes the cake,” Simon said on stage.
Each car weighs 975 kg (2,149 pounds), and is about 5 meters long and 2 meters wide. The Robocar is also awfully short, coming up to just past the knee on Roborace CEO Denis Sverdlov.
As for how the Robocar will get around, it’s equipped with four 300kW motors — one for each wheel. Roborace says the cars should be able to reach speeds of 320 kilometers per hour, or just shy of 200 miles per hour. All this is powered by the Nvidia Drive PX2, which will process information from a wild suite of sensors: 5 LIDAR, 2 radar, 18 ultrasonic, 2 optical speed sensors, and 6 cameras. Simon says that the car on stage is going to be run in a few weeks.
Announced in 2015, Roborace aims to be the “world’s first self-driving racing series.” Without drivers, the focus will be on the teams of engineers that program the cars. “It’s not a competition of budget, it’s a competition of intelligence,” Sverdlov said on stage.
The organizers have said the goal is to pit 10 teams (each armed with two Robocars) against each other before every Formula E race. This was originally supposed to happen during the current Formula E season, but Roborace appears to have scaled back ambitions to just racing two Robocars on a Formula E track by July.
Roborace has been testing two development versions of the Robocar at the last few Formula E races, and even (sort of) pitted them against each other this month in Buenos Aires. That first “race” saw one car reach 115 miles per hour, while the other car crashed.