Watch An Autonomous Race Car Try To Beat Pro-Drifter Ryan Tuerck

With an incredibly bumpy Rome Formula E street circuit laid out in front of him, pro-drifter Ryan Tuerck takes the Roborace ‘DevBot’ racing car, essentially a closed cockpit prototype with an electric motor at each of the four wheels and a combined 550 horsepower, out to set a lap representative of the human ability. When he gets out of the car at the end of the lap, the engineers tell the car to execute, and it drives itself on a quick lap of the same circuit.


The goal here is to prove Roborace technology has what it takes to bring the fight directly to human drivers. They’re confident that the time the robot can produce is within a standard deviation of what Tuerck can produce. In the lead up to the race, Tuerck gets some advice from Formula E driver Lucas DiGrassi, and goes for a handful of sighting laps before setting his race lap. Based on the video, it doesn’t appear that the DevBot was given any such pro-racer advice or practice laps, it was sent out to do its lap, and it did it.

Ultimately, as you can see in the video, Tuerck does win the battle, and it is by a pretty significant margin, but the team behind the project believe that they aren’t far off from the robot being able to execute at a higher level than humans. Perhaps once the machines have gotten a little bit quicker, they could stage a tete-a-tete wheel-to-wheel battle between several DevBots and human drivers. I’d watch that.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.


If they were as confident as they claim, they would have used a professional racing driver, not a professional drifter. Clearly, there was at least one Formula E pilot on hand. Tuerck can wheel, sure, but he isn’t as practiced as the Formula E guys at racing on a street circuit and is far less likely to get the most out of the car.

Did they put ballast in the car to equal Tuerck’s weight after he got out? ~75 kg ( 165 lbs, or however much else Tuerck weighs ) or so can be a big difference on a course where acceleration and handling are more influential than straight line speed.

So, in other words: They put a driver in the car who was unlikely to extract the best performance out of it and still lost handily.