Running The First Electric Self-Driving Racing Series Will Be Harder Than It Sounds

Image via YouTube screengrab
Image via YouTube screengrab

The team behind Roborace, the planned support series for the FIA Formula E Championship that’ll race electric self-driving cars, scheduled its car’s debut for Formula E’s season opener in Hong Kong last weekend. But the car didn’t make it to the track, and the team documented all of its struggles on video.


When originally announced, Roborace was set to begin for the 2016-2017 race season that Formula E kicked off in Hong Kong. The series markets itself as the first driverless electric racing series, and it will use artificial intelligence in its spec race cars. Strategy will play out through algorithms programmed in by engineers, and they’re the real competitors here.

The series obviously didn’t make its target start date, and scheduled a first public appearance for the race car instead. But battery troubles kept the car from making its debut, and this video is sort of like watching a sad television drama about “Season Zero” for the series:

The car in the video, called “DevBot,” is a test mule with the basic hardware and software that will wind up in the Roborace vehicles. It has a human friendly cell for the purposes of testing, but the design for the real race car looks like some kind of futuristic bone for Clifford the Big Red Dog.


Regardless of the fact that the Roborace team didn’t make it to the debut, it’s still strange to think that we’re at the point of racing driverless, electric cars.

And other than a basic interest in autonomous cars, it’s also hard to see how the package for this series will go over when they get things together. Sports are often about the people behind them, and watching a competition of computers seems odd—even if it is a good testing ground for new technology.

We’ll just have to see how things go. Well, once the team gets a car out there to show us what this series is all about, that is.

Staff writer, Jalopnik

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When your just trying to sleep and your autonomous car pulls up next to another and turns on race mode