Riding In A Self-Driving Race Car Looks Absolutely Terrifying

Image via Roborace on YouTube
Image via Roborace on YouTube

For a lot of people, riding in a car that has even partial control over its actions is difficult enough in slow traffic—just ask the 70-year-old lady who thoroughly freaked out while using Tesla’s Autopilot. But letting a race car take full control? That’s a whole new level of “No, thanks.”


For clarification, the race car featured in the video below is a test mule for the new Roborace, an electric, self-driving racing series that’s eventually planned to act as a support series for the FIA Formula E Championship. Tesla’s Autopilot and things like it are driver-assistance systems rather than a fully autonomous ones, so don’t take that reference too seriously.

Anyway, Roborace has a video series in which they document their progress—struggles and all—as the series tries to get off of the ground. The series hasn’t had the easiest time so far, as it originally planned to take off for the 2016-2017 race season. Roborace missed that deadline by a long shot, and also failed to get a test car out on the race track for its first public demonstration in October.

The series brought two test mules to Silverstone Circuit recently and put at least one poor human inside for some laps. The video shows a team member hop into a car, no hands or other interference, and let the it take off around the track. No, thanks. That’s terrifying. Robots are terrifying. Everything is terrifying.

The future is a scary place. Remember the ‘90s, when moon shoes were the hip, new, sometimes scary technology?

Staff writer, Jalopnik



autonomy in racing still leaves me conflicted. i understand the concept of it being about programming/components instead of driver skill— it’s a shift that places the quality of racing on initial setup and pit procedures instead of driver skill.

i’m just not convinced that the differences in teams will be as apparent to make the series exciting to watch. where drivers make mistakes because of their own judgement, fatigue, or pushing the limits of their equipment beyond spec, auto-cars don’t have those types of failure, so cars will win on much closer ground, likely by the pre-programmed racing lines they take, which would be separated by fractions of a second, and won’t have obvious differences unless each run is analyzed down to the inch of where they hit the apex and where they turned in and out of corners.

i think it will end up turning into something like those lan-party gaming competitions in large area’s where the camera will spend more time fixated on the team in the pits staring at a laptop, and less on the car moving around the track. not that this is a bad thing overall, but it will be a very different type of racing