Autonomous Race Car Starts Test Lap, Immediately Slams Into Wall

And we mean immediately.

byPeter Holderith|
Autonomous Race Car Starts Test Lap, Immediately Slams Into Wall

Driver assistance systems are gradually getting closer to full autonomy; however, none of them are quite there yet. Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" is not actually capable of driving on its own, and Cadillac's Super Cruise only works on the highway. There's also a slew of startups attempting to develop fully driverless tech that has yet to offer anything for sale to the public. However, it should be easier on racetracks, right? There are no intersections, no stoplights—just the mapped course ahead. 

Well, as easy as it may sound, an autonomous vehicle in the Roborace series seems to be having a bit of trouble with it. After starting a race as the only vehicle on-track, it took a sharp right turn and accelerated, running straight into a barrier while livestreaming on Twitch. You can't help but laugh at the immediate mishap.

To be clear, not all Roborace vehicles do this. The plan is for each race team to develop its own autonomous tech with the electric drivetrains and chassis all being identical. So, in a race, that means this car would just DNF while other AIs drove around it, hopping on the radio and screeching like an old dial-up modem...or something. That's how robots express joy. At least, I think.

Jokes aside, this incident is one of a few embarrassing mistakes Roborace cars have made in the past. That doesn't mean they don't also have good laps, though. One of the vehicles successfully drove up the hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed a year ago, impressing spectators when the driver monitoring the car got out midway through the run, sending the vehicle on its way.

So while not every autonomous racecar outing ends in an accident, all of the funny ones do. It would be interesting to see what a Tesla with FSD would do around a racetrack. I wouldn't be surprised if it ran into a barrier as well.

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