If you attended the ePrix in Germany a few weeks ago, you were in for a special treat. We here at The Drive love when our favorite drivers try to one-up each other on—and also off—the track. Such was the case when one of this year's most popular Formula E-inspired cars hit the course for a test-and-tune session. Only with this car, there was no driver involved.
Formula E has a special kind of audience, coming in at only 4 percent of the viewership of Formula 1. But those who are a fan clearly have some form of interest in electric cars, since that is what's racing, after all. One of the goals of some of the auto manufacturers who are researching and expanding their EV divisions is also to master the future world of autonomous tech. Since Tesla has basically been unofficially crowned king of market-ready autonomy already, many have entered to compete in the consumer offerings. But what about in racing?
Yeah, somebody is doing that too. Meet RoboRace, the company dedicated to bringing a fully autonomous Formula E-inspired racecar to the track. So far, the company has revealed RoboCar, its 'closer-to-production' machine, and DevBot, the prototype counterpart. DevBot was shown to the public in 2016 while its relative was revealed to the public in early 2017. Naturally, both have been to the track in their first few months of being tire-to-pavement. Despite knowing it can go around the track, one of the most interesting things to see is just how the car looks from the inside with absolutely no hands on the wheel.
The sound of the car's electric motors whirring, the tires winding up on the pavement, and the shuttering on deceleration all make for a vocalization similar to what you might imagine hell sounds like.
Watching the car dart around the track is interesting. It takes corners sparingly, leaving gaps in turns and modulating its speed accordingly to how sharp the turn in on the track is. All of these different modulations provide an experience that is reportedly within 8 percent of human-level driving around the track. You go, DevBot. That in itself is impressive, considering this car traversed the track in 124 mph (converted from 200 KMH) with no driver whatsoever.
RoboRace also released a small documentary regarding the company's vision and progress. It's nothing short of amazing to watch the car shift from driver to driverless in the blink of an eye. Check that out below.
After many, many miles at its test facility, RoboRace's DevBot stunned fans by rocketing off on its own. It stabilized wheel spin, ate up corners, and showed the track who's boss. As a result of concurrent runs at faster and faster speeds, RoboRace measures its car as successful based on it performing exactly how they expected. It might be interesting to see how well the car performs with other vehicles on the track, or even a mix of driver and driverless competitors.