Despite years of work, the fully-autonomous race cars from Roborace are still yet to hit the track competitively in a series running alongside Formula E. Now, Roborace has announced a series of changes to the project and set its sights on launching the new racing series next year.
Rather than using the futuristic Robocar revealed last year, the company, led by 2016/2017 Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi, will kick off its inaugural season with a vehicle dubbed DevBot 2.0, a second-generation version of its autonomous development car.
DevBot 2.0 takes design inspiration from LMP race cars and unlike the Robocar, actually has a cockpit. As a result, the vehicles will be piloted for the first half of each race by a human driver while for the second half of the race, the self-driving systems will take over.
“The impression of a driver driving and then jumping out much better exemplifies the difference between human and autonomous driving,” di Grassi said of the new approach.
“Most importantly, I think motorsport has to have a human component. It’s always been about human and machine.”
Compared to the original DevBot tester which has been in the works for quite some time, DevBot 2.0 has a more complete and eye-catching design, complete with a huge rear wing and LED lighting.
The first season is expected to feature fewer than 10 cars and according to di Grassi, “six or seven” new DevBot 2.0s are currently being built. Two teams have already signed up for the inaugural season.
Over the coming years, Roborace expects the series to develop drastically. For the category’s full release in 2021, racers will be competing in new vehicles that bring together the best elements of DevBot 2.0 and the cockpit-less Robocar. Di Grassi says he would like the final cars to deliver in excess of 1341 hp, use four electric motors, and to have the ability to control the power for each wheel.
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